Albums of 2011: 1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

When Bon Iver released For Emma, forever ago, he created a perfect record. Or as perfect as you can get. The thing that grabbed me the most about that first record, is the emotion in it. Yes, the songwriting is stunning, his voice is flawless and the instrumentation and recording process is incredibly unique. But it’s the emotion that makes so many people completely fall in love with that record. When he announced that he would be releasing a second Bon Iver album, I was a bit tentative. I saw the Bon Iver thing about being at a certain time, in that cabin in the woods, when Justin Vernon made that first record. I thought maybe it should have been left alone, left at the perfection it was.

This album isn’t as good as For Emma, it’s not even close. That emotion, that sound of loneliness ,and that simplicity of the first record has gone. But what we remains is something so special in its own right. In a video interview, Justin comments that he called this album Bon Iver because it felt like the end of something, like he was rounding that period of his life. Bon Iver, Bon Iver; Good Winter, Good Winter. Listening to this record, that makes a lot of sense. It does have elements of the first album. but it also feels like he has moved on with his life and this is the result of that.

The vacant guitar and layered vocals have been replaced with heavy wind and brass instruments, electric instruments and synths and percussion. There’s more experimentation in this second record, in one way it’s more interesting to listen to, it creates a sound world. And there is still that beauty. The first record was beautiful, beautiful in the way it flowed and beautiful in the way it affected the listener. And this record does that too.

For this whole review, I have compared Bon Iver Bon Iver to For Emma, Forever ago. But I think this is the best way to appreciate it. I wouldn’t recommend listening to this album unless you have absorbed the first record, I feel like the whole Bon Iver thing is a concept and not just a band, and you need it all to get it. Think of it like this, For Emma was part 1, the Blood Bank EP was the connection, and Bon Iver was part 2, the final part to that story. But will their be more stories? I think their needs to be.

Standout Tracks: Holocene, Calgary, Beth/Rest



Filed under Best of 2011

3 responses to “Albums of 2011: 1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

  1. Henrik

    Hey Anna, I just wanted to say thank you for putting this best of 2011 list together, every morning I’ve been looking forward to discovering your next entry aaaaand I kept wondering where Laura Marling’s album would end up, haha. 😉 Some familiar names such as Bon Iver, Ms Marling and Fleet Foxes but so many fresh suggestions, thanks for that! I already fell in love with Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell thanks to your post and after listening to their EP, I’m currently waiting for my copy of their debut LP. They’re so lovely but seem to be criminally unknown. I love your blog because it reveals hidden gems like this one. =)
    A friend of mine who’s doing Erasmus in Reykjavík pointed out this band to me: Of Monsters and Men. I think you might enjoy them as well. It’s upbeat indie folk with male and female vocals from an icelandic six-piece, I really like them! They’ve got just one song on their myspace ( but there are other great tunes on soundcloud
    and youtube (, on the latter the beat even reminds me of Arcade Fire.
    Anyways, thanks for doing all the writing and for being so passionate about your favourite music, I really like that. 🙂
    Greets from Germany,

    • flyingwithanna

      Hi Hendrik,
      Thanks so much for your comment. Made my day 🙂
      Glad you’ve been enjoying the posts- and I agree about Jonny and Lucy!
      Thanks for the band suggestion- I’ll check them out.
      Thanks again!
      Happy Christmas!!

      • Henrik

        Ya, you have a happy Christmas as well! Looking forward to some more great lists and the ones to watch post. =)

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