First it was For Emma, Forever Ago. The soul in a refraction of icicles. A moment hanging like breath on air. And yet life ? even still life - is not still. The story is not a story if it does not unravel. Your eyes you may cast backward, but the heart is locked in the chest and must beat forever forward. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is the frozen beast pressing upward from a loosening earth, one ear cocked to the echo of the ghost choir still singing, the other craving the martial call of drums tumbling, of thrum and wheeze. The desolation smoke has dissipated, cut with strips of brass. Celebration will not be denied, the cabinet cannot contain the rattle, there is meat on the bones.
It?s there right away, in the thicker-stringed guitar and military snare of "Perth," and "Minnesota, WI." Anyone who had a single listen to For Emma will peg Justin Vernon's vocals immediately, but there is a sturdiness, an insistence, to Bon Iver, Bon Iver that allows him to escape the cabin in the woods without burning it to the ground. "Holocene" opens with simple finger-picking. The vocal is regret spun hollow and strung on a wire. Then the snare-beat breaks and drives us forward and up and up until we fly silent through the black-star night, our wreckage in view whole atmospheres below. The vocals in "Hinnom, TX" ease to the muffled depths, while the instrumentation remains sparse and cosmic. "Calgary" is a worship song to everything For Emma mourned, and at the point in the final track "Beth/Rest" when Vernon sings, "I ain't livin" in the dark no more" it is clear he isn't dancing in the sunshine, but rather shading toward a new light.
"Bon Iver is often equated with just me," says Vernon, "but you are who surrounds you, and for Bon Iver, Bon Iver I wanted to invite those voices as musical catalysts."