The dismal setting of my office – distinctly small, hot, and intern-insignificant – witnessed a shining beacon of joy this morning when my resolute Pitchfork perusal enlightened me to the fact that Bon Iver is streaming a well-awaited new album. The mere thought of this truth was surely enough to energize me with bliss, but better was listening to it the first time. It isn’t often that when listening to a new album I’m so carelessly blissful for anything beyond the newness of the album. But this time, the album in and of itself made me just so happy. I had to smile like a maladroit fool all the while I listened. Justin and company, you’ve truly outdone yourselves this time.
I also had an overwhelming feeling that summer had arrived and it wasn’t just because the sweat trickling down my brow despite a fan blowing directly in my face. I love so much that this album isn’t just a repeat of For Emma, Forever Ago. It is undeniably Bon Iver, but it is also something quite different and grand. For Emma was a success story of artistic silence intertwined with brilliant falsetto and masterful guitar work of unique timbre. Honest musings of rural satisfaction brought a music world to its knees in willing surrender and Bon Iver stood the victor for a new direction of “indie” music.
In Bon Iver, Justin and crew ensure all that their reign is supreme and just. Masters of timbre from the first song, something is just so powerful about those first few chords in “Perth”. As I listened my smile only got brighter. I can’t even understand how someone finds such a perfect tone for a guitar and matches it even more perfectly with just the right progression. It’s nothing else but masterful.
In that way, I can’t understand the entirety of the album at all; I mean, I can’t begin to understand how someone does something like this. How is every choice they make for every song so clearly the right one? The skeptic in me wanted to be certain that Perth and Calgary were the only good songs on the album, but the optimist in me beat the shit out of the skeptic, stood over his battered frame, spit, and said “I told you so!”
I was quite right about the sounds of Gayngs leaking into Bon Iver’s work. “Beth/Rest” reminds me a lot of the closing ballad, “Last Prom on Earth”, of Relayted. Again Bon Iver’s choice of tone becomes a focal point of an excellent piece of music. Opting for a fuller sound than For Emma the band employs a larger drum presence (contrasting the lone floor tom act of “Skinny Love”), more electric accompaniment, and the collaboration of other well-known artists like Colin Stetson. By his lonesome Mr. Stetson’s music is something to behold, but it just makes so much sense for him to join the Bon Iver crew for this go around.
I wish I knew more about music to give this album a better informed analysis. For me it’s enough to notice just how happy listening makes me, but the important thing to get out of all of this, is that I like (read: love) Bon Iver’s Bon Iver. Listen to it now for free, but when it’s released, spend the money.