By Nina McFall
With the release of their self-titled second album, Bon Iver manages to meet the high expectations set by their first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Though it is hard to top the indie-anthem status of Skinny Love, Bon Iver does not disappoint.
Bon Iver produces the kind of music that you wish you knew all the lyrics to, but at the same time, never want to get sick of. The harp-like, often murmured lyrics hold certain mystery and poeticism that would be somewhat spoilt if every word were distinguishable. Bon Iver shares this uttered lyrical quality with Iron and Wine.
The song titles refer to places, such as Perth and Calgary, and others that sound like they could be places but aren?t, such as Hinnom, TX, and Michicant. This adds to the dream-like, stream-of-consciousness lyrical form adopted in many of the tracks from Bon Iver and the surreal, eerie quality to Justin Vernon?s voice.
Lyrically, far more is left open to interpretation than in their previous album. With lyrics such as ?don’t you cherish me to sleep/never keep your eyelids clipped? the songs are more about how the words make you feel than what they mean.
Each track creates a curious sense of simultaneous nostalgia and victory. Fleet Foxes, though more folk than Bon Iver, leaves the listener with a similar feeling of upliftment and nostalgia. Tastekid suggests that The Antlers, The Tallest Man on Earth and Grizzly Bear (who, like Bon Iver, also made an appearance on the Twilight soundtrack) have a similar sound. James Vincent McMorrow comes closest to reminding of Bon Iver?s unique sound.
Holocene and Towers are more lyrical and coherent than the album?s other tracks, reading more like poetry than a song. Intricate imagery is accompanied by swelling violins, while the refrain ?I could see for miles, miles miles? in Holocene contributes to the longing feeling one is left with after the album?s completion.
Bon Iver transitions smoothly between songs, until the final track. Beth/Rest does not seem to fit in with the rest of the album?s subtlety, and is a rather jarring and cheesy ballad which you would expect to conclude a rom-com, not an indie album.
All in all, Vernon’s flute-like falsetto and multilayered harmonies invite you to either sit under the stars and cry, or kiss someone. The sound is just too beautiful to not share with heartbreak or love, and requires a setting as beautiful as the tracks.