On Repeat: Bon Iver – Bon Iver

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From the very first strum of a guitar on this self-titled album you immediately recognise that signature Bon Iver sound that is synonymous with his soul-shattering debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

It’s been four years since the man behind the melancholic voice; Justin Vernon was plucked from heartbroken obscurity and catapulted onto the international fame stage. He has since emerged reborn.

Having produced one of the most celebrated records of the 2000s the pressure was on when it came to deliver a second time around. Having openly admitted that writing was a more difficult process than his first effort, Vernon does sound more self assured and dare I say it, happier.

It seems the various side projects he has been involved with recently have contributed to the sonic evolution that can be heard on this forthcoming album, most notably his collaboration with Collections of Colonies of Bees to form the very experimental-sounding Volcano Choir.

With diverse instrumentation throughout all tracks, the professional production can be heard with careful layering of vocals and puncturing percussions throughout.

Vocalists Sean Carey, Mike Noyce and Matt McCaughan compliment Vernon’s voice well and diverse instrumentation cameos from saxophonist Colin Stetson to pedal steel player Greg Leisz strengthen the powerful sound of Bon Iver.

This eponymous offering was recorded over a three year period in what used to be a veterinary clinic in Wisconsin. The opening track Perth marches alongside a military-sounding snare drum before fading softly into serenity.

There is a sense of clarity and closing the chapter of heartbreak that was so raw on For Emma. Towers showcases a beautiful, classically Bon Iver sound while distant piano sounds accompany what seems the country-tinged Wash.

Bon Iver finishes on the out-of-place Beth/Rest. Its 80s sound fails to compliment the previous eleven tracks. It is hard not to picture Tom Cruise walking in slow motion while listening to it.

Words by Aoife O’Connor.

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