I wish I could say I’ve returned home from the college semester, filling my new free hours with loads of new music that I just cannot wait to share with you. However, that is not the case, and no one is more sorry about that than I am. I’ve mostly been listening to nostalgia-inducing songs of the past few months, sitting by windows dripping with rain, blending into floral wallpaper, all around feeling sorry for myself, etc. I’ve thrown in a little socializing into the mix too, don’t worry too much. For example I spent the last two hours (two hours?) watching the season premiere of The Bachelorette with some girlfriends. Two hours. Apparently every episode is two hours? You may confirm or deny this, I really have no idea. (Side note: If you’re not rooting for JP you’re a goddamn fool. Or that masked bro, he seems chill/crazy). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I haven’t been doing much new-music listening, aside from one, rather enjoyable leak of Bon Iver’s new self titled album.
So to be brief, this album is, uh, like, real good.
Like real, good.
Lemme just say real quick that I’m not that Bon Iver-starry-eyed drooling folksy girl that would fawn over anything with the Justin Vernon touch. In fact, I was (as I often am with sophomore albums) rather hesitant and stubborn about it. I went through a Bon Iver phase, for sure, who didn’t?… but I wasn’t obsessed. So listen up when I say that this album impressed me, and I’m being straight with y’all.
I’m fairly confident when I say that this is one of the most successful sophomore albums I know. It retains the beauty and earnestly that defined For Emma, Forever Ago, so you know, the 100% of people who heard that album that liked it will not have too much difficulty getting on board with this new one. Tracks like “Michicant,” and “Holocene” (the latter of which, by the way, is pretty much Vernon’s “Hazelet” IN MY OPINION… no problem there though, that song is dope) are same old, same old. By which I mean fucking great, but nothing new.
But let’s not act like there aren’t a handful of huge “Wait… What the fuck?”-s scattered throughout the album. Not bad “wtf”-s, but rather surprising and totally lovable “wtf”-s. For example, the second track, “Minnesota, WI”… who even’s voice is that? I’m not familiar… And what is that buzzing over my Bon Iverian acoustic plucking? Some sorta crazy electronic bass whatsit? I don’t get it, per se, but I’m into it. And “Lisbon, OH”? Is this… is this an electronic instrumental jam? Go ahead and compare this to its For Emma counterpart, “Team.” I think that might be the most straight-forward cross-album comparison.
And then there’s that closing track. That finale. Whether or not this is Bon Iver’s “LOL-JK!” moment is unclear, but lemme tell you, “Beth / Rest” leaves an impression. I played the start of a song for a friend who, before I even got a chance to explain “Oh yeah, that’s kind of the weirdest new track,” offered something to the effect of “so he’s pulling a Destroyer.” Throwin’ in a little sassy sythn & sax combo, maybe like something you’d here in your neighborhood department store? So Kaputt. But look, my intentions are not to be critical. I think this song is great. I have to admit I actually mostly detest the saxophone, but “Beth / Rest” still leaves such a bizarrely clever impression on me, like a kind of awkward taste in your mouth that leaves you confused and concerned and intrigued. I’m all “Oh shit, what have I even been listening to?” Am I at a wedding in 1983? Am I slow dancing at the prom in Napoleon Dynamite? (…thats a weak cultural reference, but I’m 20 so I can’t really go back too far) NO SERIOUSLY, WHAT HAVE I BEEN LISTENING TO???” So then you listen to it again. And again. And eventually, you’ll get there, you come around to it. The whole album just clicks into place. It’s like Vernon took For Emma, looked at us and said “You like that shit? Well get a load of this! HAH. HAH.” and then created an album full of the same elegance and emotion but, like, with 12 new instruments and some fine, fine production. …And then Apple leaked the whole thing and the universe LOL-ed. Sorry Vernon :/ u rule tho, don’t worry. buy the album in june, bros.
Bon Iver – Calgary
In short, Bon Iver is complex and fucking beautiful, sickly sweet yet confidently confrontational. It snuggles up to you and then punches you in the face. And then gets you an ice pack and kisses you on the cheek. Get into it.
Until next time.