Justin Vernon’s cult phenomenon are only on their second album but probably on about three million bored hipsters’ lists of favourite bands. Not to say that Bon Iver are boring – so far from it. In fact, that the act’s tour sold out in a crazy amount of time (I’m still mad about that). The group’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago was one of the best records of recent years and it seemed so impossible to follow up that people doubted that there would even be a second Bon Iver album. The release of Blood Bank EP a few years back was a taste of things to come but couldn’t really ever forewarn us to the sound of this sophomore release.
The band released “Calgary” a few weeks before the record itself, and fans were astonished at how totally different the song sounded. People wanted more “Skinny Love”, more beardy bloke with a guitar, not a bloody 80s tribute act, complete with requisite cheesy synths. We all warmed to “Calgary” however, and when the full album was released, it was instantly acclaimed. Instantly! Every track on this album is emotional, adventurous and interesting, even closer “Beth/Rest”, who’s soft rock sound is more divisive than the Berlin Wall; the stripped back piano-only version revealing a truly beautiful ballad under those saxophone solo. Bon Iver reminds us with every listen that music is an art form, as much as it is an expression of self, and the synergy between the two can be so fluid that you begin to wonder where the feeling stops and where the making begins.