Bon Iver – Bon Iver

written by: June 16, 2011
Release Date: June 21, 2011


The soulful solemn sound coming from the work of Bon Iver in their latest collection of sounds is comfortably relative. It carries the same falsetto vocals and heavy, progressive guitar that fans have come to know and relate with, making the new self-titled record a sounding success primarily because of its familiarity.

Not only that, the greatest element of the record is that it differs from Bon Iver’s previous For Emma, Forever Ago precisely the right amount. No fans want to hear a duplicate of a debut record when they’re delivered a sophomore comeback.

Throughout the record, there are traces of other styles mixed in. The way certain tracks are mixed almost causes the band to venture away from their particular indie/folk genre. Some songs display a more industrial sound, straying from the stricter guitar, synth and vocal sound they used to produce. The innovation in the new instruments, including a horn section near the middle of the record, reassures Bon Iver’s progression as stylists and musicians. There are audible references to generations past. We even hear a hint of country twang at a few points along the way, particular in the closing lines of “Towers” and final swooner “Beth/Rest.”

Releasing “Calgary” as the first single for Bon Iver prefaces listeners for what was about to come but also didn’t give away too much. The track is reminiscent of something one might hear from the band’s past but with a heavier drum beat. It almost served as a transition from former Bon Iver sounds, featuring a built-up focus of energy and a heartbreaking chorus falsetto, and showcasing the new taste of the band with a bit more professional flavor.

The flow of songs from start to finish on Bon Iver is remarkable.

It’s unknown whether the songs were made to mash together or if it was simply a coincidence. Either way, it’s a delight to the ears. It makes for an ease to the likes of the listener, facing no interruptions between singer Justin Vernon’s breaths.

Along the flow there are a number of highlights. “Perth” opens the record quite calmly and slowly as it builds anticipation. The same mellow, hushed type of tune follows “Holocene” along the lines “I could see for miles, miles, miles,” drawing a sort of contemplative and photographic scene.

Soon the mood shifts to a more positive tone and reaches its height when it trails to “Towers” and ending with an exciting combination of strumming acoustic guitar and happy horns. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t more moments like this on the album.

People expect to jam to soft sounds when they turn to this band, but it could be easily taken as depressing music. And with this tiny glimpse of strong energy, it’s a shame there couldn’t be more exultation heard this time around.

A light piano accompanies the delicate lines of “Wash” at a dreamy near-end of the compilation, leading closer to the finale.

With that, the greatest moment in Bon Iver’s self-titled happens in the final song. The beginning sounds as if it were taken from a movie made in the early ’90s, featuring heavy bass drum and an easily iconic electric piano sampling. The chorus nearly completes the song before it is finished, but it is all made complete by the fact that the song is a closer in itself. It completes the record as a subtle celebration of music with a hushed success. As a part of a very complete record, it is a true spectacle to hear.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver Tracklist:

  1. “Perth”
  2. “Minnesota, WI”
  3. “Holocene”
  4. “Towers”
  5. “Michicant”
  6. “Hinnom, TX”
  7. “Wash.”
  8. “Calgary”
  9. “Lisbon, OH”
  10. “Beth/Rest”