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Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Image For Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Bon Iver is the second record of what is essentially the solo project of Wisconsin native Justin Vernon. Returning after his heartbreakingly brilliant debut For Emma, Forever Ago (created entirely while holed up in a log cabin through a freezing winter in the middle of nowhere, alone) and a fruitful 2010 which saw him release the excellent Relayted with side-project Gayngs and feature heavily on Kanye West’s critically-embraced My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Vernon has delivered one of the most complete and beautiful works in recent memory.

Perth opens the record, just one of a series of song titles that evoke a physical, geographical connection to the land and an innate sense of place. The track itself is a wistful acoustic journey backed with reverb-drenched vocal harmonies that recall those of Fleet Foxes, marching snare drums, and a sombre brass and woodwind section, eventually building up into a majestic epic. The constantly evolving arrangement of Minnesota, WI follows, Vernon channelling the vocal inflections of Coldplay’s Chris Martin in the opening segment before his aching falsetto makes a grand entrance backed by strangely regal banjo plucking and Midwestern pedal-steel guitar towards the closure. Holocene is the record’s most poignant and elegant track, the sombre folk acoustic guitar and resonant piano and vibraphone backing building up and breaking down throughout its near six minute duration while a heartbroken Vernon muses with a sense of resignation, “And at once I knew I was not magnificent”. The melodic Towers is immaculately arranged, featuring brilliant key changes and several distinct parts that intertwine to create a seamless, magnificently dynamic whole.

Michicant sees Vernon perhaps at his most downcast, with the track’s sombre, wintry feel matched perfectly by a typically exquisite lyrical vignette culminating in the portentous “Hung up in the ivory, both were climbing for a finer cause/Love can hardly leave the room with your heart”. Hinnom, TX threatens to break out into a stadium-sized anthem, but instead of the massive chant-along zenith one would come to expect from a band like Arcade Fire, Vernon retains the mature, minimalist restraint of one like The National, and it is this constant, bottled up tension that adds such a depth and richness to the record. The stark piano opening of Wash. slowly builds up once again, firstly with Vernon’s deeply emotive falsetto and then with a string section that hints at expanding into a full orchestra before the crescendo breaks down once again. The track’s uneasy, cryptic lyrics (“I’m growing like the quickening hues/I’m telling darkness from lines on you”) merely enhance its power.

Calgary is one of the record’s closest moments to the soulful soft rock of Gayngs’ Relayted, and was unofficially the first single released from the album. Lisbon, OH is a subtle, almost ambient instrumental piece serving as an interlude before closer Beth/Rest, a stylistic departure from the rest of the record in its horn-led, unavoidably 80s adult contemporary stylings, complete with a lead guitar that could almost pass for a Van Halen B-side and a keyboard that wouldn’t sound out of place on any yacht rock compilation. The overall result is akin to Hall and Oates on barbiturates, and strangely closes the record on an anthemic, lighters-in-the-air moment of power-pop victoriousness.

Vernon has retained the isolated heartache that made For Emma, Forever Ago such a great record, but expanded his palette of stylistic influences and created a rich tapestry of widescreen, panoramic perfection that evokes vivid imagery of vast, sweeping woodland landscapes much like the one on the record’s cover. The arrangements themselves are near flawless, comparable to those of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, though essentially an antithesis to that record’s blissful, joyous moments of carefree youth. In that respect, Vernon can be considered one of the few truly great songwriters and arrangers in the music world, possessing the ability to create a timeless work of near-infinite depth, and Bon Iver merely underlines this assertion.

Comments

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oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

i hadnt really listened to bon iver before this, i got both albums yesterday, instant fan. nice work SQ :)

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

It's often used, but I don't really get the phrase heartbreakingly brilliant.

Obviously you're saying that it is heartbreaking and brilliant, but I see them as fairly mutually exclusive. I'm also surprised by how often the phrase is used. Seeker, Lover, Keeper's album is also heartbreakingly brilliant according to one review.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

How much autotune is on this one?

batdan

batdan said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

10pts for not using the word sophmore.

SlowerQuieter

SlowerQuieter said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

It's often used, but I don't really get the phrase heartbreakingly brilliant.

Obviously you're saying that it is heartbreaking and brilliant, but I see them as fairly mutually exclusive. I'm also surprised by how often the phrase is used. Seeker, Lover, Keeper's album is also heartbreakingly brilliant according to one review.

Basically I'm saying that the heartbreaking element of it is one of the primary aspects that makes it brilliant.

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 23rd Jun, 2011



I assume it's a combination of admiration and jealousy.
Like "I'm pretty sad I'll never make an album this good".

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

quote from P4K interview



just putting that out there.

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 23rd Jun, 2011

In that case I'm not going to buy this album so I can avoid talking about it.
I don't want to have to use a sentence like "I'm really enjoying Bon Iver,Bon Iver by Bon Iver" in a conversation.

Spicy McHaggis

Spicy McHaggis said on the 24th Jun, 2011

It's a fantastic record. I'm still undecided if it's as good/better/worse than the first. which is probably a good thing.

Triple J should be ashamed of themselves for not putting it on high rotation.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 24th Jun, 2011

How do people pronounce this?

I always read it as "Bon Eye-ver"

But on the J's the other day it was announced as "Bon-e-verr"

Spicy McHaggis

Spicy McHaggis said on the 24th Jun, 2011

I think it's the latter. but I pronounce it like you too dude.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 24th Jun, 2011

its supposed to be bon hiver (like hither but with a v) triple j make it sound too much like bonny ver, and its not eye-ver.

SlowerQuieter

SlowerQuieter said on the 24th Jun, 2011

I thought it was like 'Bon eevair' but I've heard a few people say 'Bon eye-ver'. Think I'll just stick to Justin.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 24th Jun, 2011



i think you've got it right there, its hard because its not spelt right and its french.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 24th Jun, 2011

It's a fantastic record. I'm still undecided if it's as good/better/worse than the first. which is probably a good thing.

Triple J should be ashamed of themselves for not putting it on high rotation.

Didn't the album only get officially released last Friday. Whilst Triple J was certainly likely to get an advance copy, I doubt they can get away with playing the leaked version a month before the record came out. I expect this will be album of the week very soon.

How do people pronounce this?

I always read it as "Bon Eye-ver"

But on the J's the other day it was announced as "Bon-e-verr"

The name is a take on the French bon hiver meaning good Winter.

It should be pronounced Bon Ee-vair (where vair rhymes with pear or share).

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 24th Jun, 2011

The album has been the feature album on triple j since sunday.

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 24th Jun, 2011

The name is a take on the French bon hiver meaning good Winter.

It should be pronounced Bon Ee-vair (where vair rhymes with pear or share).

I don't say evasion, I say avoision.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 24th Jun, 2011



But that's because you're a bit of a Kent.

SlowerQuieter

SlowerQuieter said on the 24th Jun, 2011



Like this

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20081101225803/dcmovies/images/archive/d/d5/20081101225910!ClarkKent.jpg

or this?

http://www.capitalphs.co.uk/images/map_kent.gif

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 24th Jun, 2011

You're forgetting rule number 7 of the internet.

If in doubt, it's probably a Simpsons reference.

P.S. The picture associated with my play on words is NSFW.

therat

therat said on the 24th Jun, 2011

As a fully grown man I can't listen to more than one song in any 24 hour peroid by these guys, that's not to say I don't like some of their songs but the shit is just so depressing.

SlowerQuieter

SlowerQuieter said on the 24th Jun, 2011

You're forgetting rule number 7 of the internet.

If in doubt, it's probably a Simpsons reference.

P.S. The picture associated with my play on words is NSFW.

I knew exactly what you meant, I was just trying to keep things PG.

grattan

grattan said on the 28th Jun, 2011

Even Wer Carr gets in on the Bon Iver love on Twitter [URL="http://twitter.com/#!/Wes_Carr/status/85554462554460160"]loving the new bon iver record.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 28th Jun, 2011

http://www.allmusic.com/album/bon-iver-r2190498

http://www.allmusic.com/album/get-your-heart-on-r2202261

All music rate the new simple plan better than Bon Iver.....TAKE THAT YOU HIPSTERS

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 2nd Aug, 2011

NPR will be webcasting Bon Iver's performance tonight at the 9:30 club in Washington. the show starts 9:30pm New York time which i think is 11:30am Wednesday morning for Sydney.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/01/138890247/live-tuesday-bon-iver-in-concert

Spicy McHaggis

Spicy McHaggis said on the 2nd Aug, 2011

http://www.allmusic.com/album/bon-iver-r2190498

http://www.allmusic.com/album/get-your-heart-on-r2202261

All music rate the new simple plan better than Bon Iver.....TAKE THAT YOU HIPSTERS

Why are you on all music?

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 3rd Aug, 2011

so did anyone get around to listening to the show today? it was a solid 90min performance without a dull moment and incredible vocal work throughout. he has a 9 piece band with him and he made great use of them. he did a couple of songs by himself and they also did a great Bjork cover.

NPR will have the show up to be downloaded for free soon. Triple J has some catching up to do!

cozza147

cozza147 said on the 3rd Aug, 2011

i missed it but that setlist looks incredible

cozza147

cozza147 said on the 3rd Aug, 2011

also are they uploading the video to download or just the audio?

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 3rd Aug, 2011

just audio. they're a radio station after all. so audio is the norm. video is a rare bonus.

and it's up on the link i posted before.

grattan

grattan said on the 30th Nov, 2011

'deluxe edition' videos are out and about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3GN9CqxKAY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt8gG9iEjpM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGAH9ihcWv4

icutmyownhair

icutmyownhair said on the 30th Nov, 2011

Nice review SQ. I thought you were in Nigeria converting heathens. Or something.

It's often used, but I don't really get the phrase heartbreakingly brilliant.

Obviously you're saying that it is heartbreaking and brilliant, but I see them as fairly mutually exclusive.
I agree. I am heartbroken by people who shit their pants. I find nothing brilliant about this.

I assume it's a combination of admiration and jealousy.
Like "I'm pretty sad I'll never make an album this good".
I do not admire nor am I jealous of shitty pantsed people.

rohan49

rohan49 said on the 23rd Sep, 2013

for vinyl buffs.
http://www.newburycomics.com/rel/v2_home.php?storenr=103&deptnr=511