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Bon Iver | Bon Iver

Jagjaguwar (2011)
By DEVON MALONEY  |  June 22, 2011
4.0 4.0 Stars

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Anyone who has spent 10 minutes Googling Bon Iver can tell you the short version of the sad tale behind their first record, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008). Frontman Justin Vernon suffers a handful of tribulations — a band breakup and a girl breakup, among others — and retreats to a cabin in the woods to reflect, spending a frigid Wisconsin winter producing one of the most soul-wrenching indie records of the decade. But if you're expecting another weepy divorce album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver isn't it. With the band's sophomore full-length, Vernon pulls together an army of about a dozen musicians to create a rich pastoral that interlaces the influences of everything he's been doing since Emma. "Towers" keeps in line with Emma's melodic hooks, whereas other songs, like "Hinnom, TX," add a fuller, more ambient dimension to the band's signature sound. If you were sort of a fan of the experimental Volcano Choir record, and if you were sort of a fan of the bro-jam goodness of Gayngs, Bon Iver, Bon Iver will surprise but not disappoint. The deliberation and complexity of this record announces how ludicrously full of ideas Vernon is. He already has projects with rap, jazz, and experimental artists under his belt, and he returns to Bon Iver, Bon Iver bubbling over with creativity. Lyrics like "At once I knew/I was not magnificent" in "Holocene" hit home the same way Emma did, but the storms that blew through that glacial cabin (now more legend than anything) have abated: Bon Iver, Bon Iver is confident and unafraid. It's at once majestic and gentle, a deep breath and a sigh that declares Vernon's transcendence of the turmoil and technique of his unique breakout record and establishes him as an artist who knows exactly what he's doing. Hallelujah.

BON IVER + THE ROSEBUDS | House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | August 5 @ 8 pm | $35 + $45 | 18+ | 888.693.2583
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