Bon Iver's new self-titled album is a hypnotic soundtrack for the moments of our lives when pain rises, love blooms, wars rage, peace recedes, bugs crawl, birds soar, volcanoes rumble, waves crash, planets crack. It should be played with discretion. It should be played without cessation. Led by Justin Vernon, Bon Iver is a falsetto dream, one which soars like a kite on a string. Higher and higher. And higher still. It does not stop until it reaches the clouds. And then a gust of wind whirls it a few hundred feet higher. Bon Iver sends normally-earthbound critics into orbital rhapsodies (TIME: "a creamy falsetto," Pitchfork: "the music moves like a river"). It's an album that is as simple as the single-word titles of its tracks (place names: "Perth," "Calgary," etc.) but as complex as a synthesizer bath washing through your ears with poly-notes. It visits the ghost of Steve Winwood of the 80s, waves at Bruce Hornsby in the 90s, takes a rest stop with Moby in 2002, but arrives fully dressed in 2011. It is intimate, it is expansive. It sings of love, of war, of being broken, of finding the whole once again.
It is, cohesively and collectively, the best album of the year.
Give a look-listen to "Calgary."
Click here to buy a copy of Bon Iver.