@review BUDDY PINNEO
Bon Iver (self-titled album)
RELEASED: June 21, 2011
In 2007, after a breakup with his band and with his girlfriend, Justin Vernon retreated to a cabin deep in the Wisconsin woods, where he reportedly fought off a bout of mononucleosis, watched old episodes of the TV hit Northern Exposure, and recorded one of indie folk’s best albums, For Emma, Forever Ago. He released the album as Bon Iver, a moniker he derived from the French bon hiver, meaning “good winter.”
Justin kept the name, expanded the band, and released the self-titled Bon Iver album last year. In November, the group so many Grammy Award nominations the list is too long to mention here. (The Grammy Awards will be announced on February 12.)
It’s been an impressive ride for the Eau Claire artist, but not totally unexpected. This album, with its doubling tracks and octaves, grabs you from the opening guitar riff. Justin carries the guitar melody directly into the vocals. Before you realize it, track two is playing and you’re in the groove.
Track three, “Holocene,” is the heart of the album. It’s hard to imagine anything more beautiful. This song alone is worth buying the entire album.
“Towers,” the next track, is very nearly a hoedown. And not in a bad way. Shuffling, rambling and jangly, it picks up the pace refreshingly.
Next up is “Michicant,” a track that is so lovely it could almost be a lullaby.
Justin counters that when he comes back in full voice with “Hinnom, TX.”
This is clearly a work intended for listening from start to finish. It’s haunting, chilling, and absolutely gorgeous. And listening to it in February will give you just one more reason to tell the person next to you bon hiver. It really is a good winter.