One of the things I love most about new music is seeing where musicians decide to take the genre. In this record’s case, it’s like there was a fork in the road. In many ways Bon Iver is going forward, but I also heard a huge nod to the past.
For the longest time I would listen to it and try and put my finger on what I found so familiar. Finally it dawned on me that it was everything. I heard sprinkles of Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and even a little Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. That sounds like a ridiculous concoction – but it works because it’s Bon Iver.
While I loved For Emma Forever Ago, I actually find this follow-up far more accessible. The falsetto is still there, but Justin Vernon reminds us that he actually has quite a deep singing voice too. Because of that change in tone, it breaks up the album a lot more, helping your ear follow along. Both the lyrics and instruments, while still wistful and melancholic are more upbeat this time around as well.
It’s a no-brainer that being happy and mono-free should make your music sound lofty. Thankfully Vernon’s good health does a huge credit to Bon Iver’s music.