Bon Iver by Bon Iver

By Philip Stone
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This isn’t a scoop; you’ve heard about Bon Iver from Bon Iver. By now, you may have also heard about the mythology of his previous album, how dude’s relationship with his boo went sour, dude got mono and went on a Ted Kaczynski journey of rural Midwestern self discovery and came back with For Emma, Forever Ago. You’ve heard about how Kanye flew this awkward Midwestern kid out to California to lay down vocal tracks for the largest hip-hop album of the Obama era.  You’ve heard about his crazy falsetto vocal style, and how parts of this new album, Bon Iver, sounds like Peter Cetera or Bruce Hornsby or Michael McDonald or some kind of Yacht Rock from the ’80s, but much better.  You’ve probably seen him on Fallon covering Bonnie Raitt, or seen that tweet from ?uestlove of the Roots saying Bon Iver played the most beautiful music he’s seen on late night TV.  You guys are using the internet, so you obviously know all of that and more by now.

We at TMB simply want to give Bon Iver a high five as he takes his victory lap.  It’s been a month and this record is still burning up our mp3 players.  That moment one minute into “Calgary” when the synth drops for a second, then resurfaces in synch with the drum machines still gives us chills.  The dueling drum parts panned to opposite speakers in “Holocene” still cause’s goose bumps.  The deep power of Vernon’s surprising non-falsetto voice in“Minnesota, WI” still feels like a gut shot.  This is real music, the type you listen to with your whole body.  Its music we’re proud of, but not because we had anything to do with it; Bon Iver sounds like it belongs to us because it’s too strange to belong to any single music scene.  This doesn’t sound like the folk of For Emma.  It is still sad and weird and beautiful, but now it feels like a colorful work of a collage artist working with the memories of a Midwest childhood in the ’80s. At times it’s bleak and gray, lonely and vacant, but still lively and lush.  This is a four season album.  This is a benchmark being made right before our eyes, music that sounds better on the 15th listen than it did on the 14th.  We, the voices of the internet, have already lost this artist to StarbucksJimmy Fallon, and Kanye West. Nevertheless, as voices of the Midwest, we salute Justin Vernon and company for creating something this important.

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