Bon Iver, Bon Iver
4.5 Stars out of 5
“Basically, meaningfulcore music is reborn” – Carles, (www.hipsterrunoff.com)
When I read that Justin Vernon grew up in Eau Claire, WI, I knew that this fact would be almost everything that I would need to describe this album. If this album does not represent driving through central Wisconsin in the middle of winter then it represents driving through central Wisconsin in the middle of winter with a deer on your roof. This album represents all the depression and despair of the Upper Midwest Rural Landscape; it’s snow and puddles and ice and alcoholism, cheese and Leinenkugel. It’s the morning after drinking a couple six packs of New Glarus Spotted Cow in the home of someone who is a Minnesota Vikings fan.
The music holds all the isolation while Vernon’s voice holds all the soul and they carry this simple formula together for one of the best albums of 2011.
The recent awful Peter Gabriel cover album ‘Scratch My Back’ had two fairly decent songs on it. One of them, Bon Iver’s ‘Flume’ , provided that answer about Vernon’s voice. Vernon has the IT Factor just like Gabriel has and I think there was a reason after listening to the track as to why it worked. While there were many tracks that Gabriel picked were outside his range, ‘Flume’ was the contemporary song that he was able to push to a new crowd. If you were a Peter Gabriel fan and picked up the album, and had never heard of Bon Iver yet, it should have been one of your first purchases after listening to the Peter Gabriel pieces.
You can be an awfully good songwriter and write catchy songs. It’s another thing to capture an essence of soul and meaning within a song to trandscend me the listener to a different place and Vernon simply has that gift.
In terms of production, after Bon Iver’s debut album “For Emma, Forever Ago,” the success has allowed Bon Iver to improve on their initial release but not enough to go crazy. It’s still endearing enough to spend watching the people come and leave from the Farm and Fleet all day.
There is a difference between this album and the Fleet Foxes in that Bon Iver builds an album that feels authentic. I do not feel as if Robin Pecknold’s beard is all of a sudden gonna be pulled off and he is a girl or some Hollywood starlet. Vernon on the other hand is going to the Walleye Fish Fry on Friday night and writing songs like Holocene to a bunch of individuals that are replacing the letters “FAVRE” on their back to “RODGERS”.
Holocene just requires the listener to replay it over and over. As I mentioned earlier, the more I listen, I hear that “Peter Gabriel” nuance in the voice that drives me closer.
There are other songs that are ever so close from the audience singing along. ‘Towers’ deserves audience participation as the tempo moves ever so speedier.
This is not an album you are going to get your dance moves to and some might argue it’s a good album to listen to when you are burying your pet cat and I say that pretty confidently that there will not be a better album this year to bury your cat to.
I am remiss to give it a perfect grade as the final track Beth/Rest does it’s best to try to remember the 80’s and ruins a perfectly good album with a throw in piece of schlocky crap. Whatever “Bruce Hornsby on a casio keyboard/piano” getup they have going on here has to leave and pretty quick. I know the 80’s are all the rage these days but that is not the single on this album. People listening to this track and saying that “It’s executed to perfection” obviously did not live through the crap of the 80’s and lastly it just does not feel anything like the rest of the album. It just doesn’t belong.
I am not big personally on the “Folksy” albums so when an album such as this pulls my attention, I would suggest climbing on board. Maybe, it just feels like Wisconsin.