I was completely “wowed” and impressed with Bon Iver‘s debut “For Emma, Forever Ago.” The lo-fi quality, emotional approach, stellar songwriting, a soulful voice and inspiring lyrics. I was excited for his follow up but was dismayed by all the hype, the guest musicians and the departure from home recording to a bigger, studio approach. I gave a couple of songs a brief chance but snobbily dismissed it as “over-hyped 80’s ballads.” My friends and musical compadres have persuaded me to give it another try….
It’s funny. I’m so enamoured with the first album I started the week with: Richard LaViolette and the Oil Spills. It’s grown on me like a new skin. It’s organic, lo-fi, live off the floor, warm and amazing. Bon Iver’s approach this time around is the opposite of what I love about LaViolette’s album, yet it is still beautiful and warm. I want to dismiss it. It’s heavy on synth, it sounds kind of “digitized,” yet it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. It’s ambient and moody. Vernon uses his vocals as an instrument. A lot of the lyrics are indiscernible and his voice can sound like another synthesizer and still it is packing an emotional and musical punch. I feel like this album may sneak up on me over the year and grow on me over the winter. It’s a lot to take in on a sleepy drive, but I”m glad I did it.
I wasn’t completely wrong about the 80’s ballads comparison though.