Review: Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Bon Iver sounds like a summer storm. A muggy June evening; temperatures that hang suspended in the mid-70s, even after the sun goes down; heat lightning flashing on the horizon; and then, eventually, a torrential downpour, crashes of thunder, strikes of lightning too close for comfort.

Or maybe I just think this album sounds like all those things, because that happened to be the environment in which I first heard it. The night Bon Iver, Bon Iver leaked on the internet, weeks ahead of its June 21, 2011 release date, it was pouring in northern Michigan. When I first heard “Perth,” it felt like someone was taking the weather outside and translating it into music. The far-off guitar notes felt like the first flickers of lightning on the horizon. Vernon’s multi-tracked, harmony-backed voice, when it breaks through the waves about 45 seconds in, evoked the gentle drizzle of the storm’s start. And then, the crescendo: a martial drumbeat, a wash of horns, the guitar sparking louder and louder. The song builds until it sounds like a furious storm—the rain clattering against your windowpane, the thunder rattling the glasses in the cabinets, the lightning flashing so quickly that it seems to illuminate the entire outside world for minutes at a time. Soon, the song subsides, burns itself out. It fades to nothing as quickly as it exploded— just as a summer storm eventually crashes away.

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