Bon Iver

Bon Iver

In 2009, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago made waves with its achingly honest lyricism and achingly genius backstory (recorded alone, in the woods, following a gut-wrenching breakup). Since then, mastermind Justin Vernon has accumulated one of the tightest bands around, taken the lead in indie supergroup GAYNGS, and famously teamed up with Kanye West. Here, Vernon graduates from affected folkie to full-blown baroque pop conductor, employing everything from sax solos to muffled claps in order to realize his vision. Vernon’s voice remains his strongest instrument, a high-register mix of soul, folk, and pop perfection that can bring even the starkest of lyricism to resounding places. And while “Holocene,” with its long and winding start and poignantly simple “I can see for miles and miles and miles” chorus, remains a hands-down highlight, it’s album ender “Beth/Rest” that finds Vernon at his most ambitious, unabashedly taking on every soft-rock trope in the book and making away with something that sounds unarguably unique.

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