When heartbreak caused Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon to retreat to the solitude of an isolated winter cabin, the result was 2008’s sublime debut album, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. Since then, Vernon’s musical introversion has expanded, even leading him to collaborate with Kanye West on the latter’s recent fifth album. Perhaps as a result of such diversification, Bon Iver’s eponymous sophomore effort takes a markedly different approach to songwriting – while ‘Holocene’ and ‘Calgary’, for example, retain the same spectral beauty of the first album, they’re multi-dimensional compositions rather than songs. It makes these ten tracks slightly less immediate, but just as moving. A wonderful, worthy follow-up.
Words by Mischa Pearlman