Bon Iver - Bon Iver (4 stars)

Follow-up to much-revered debut an warmer, bigger, more welcoming beast

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Bon Iver - Bon Iver

(4AD)

Everyone is better-off with a little soft-rock in their lives. Alt-smooth indie supergroup Gayngs proved that assertion in 2010, when their nostalgic-pop album, Relayted, topped many end-of-year polls. One of that band’s most prominent members – Bon Iver’s rugged songbird Justin Vernon – has clearly come away from said union with the amber glow of 70s and 80s MOR all over him. (This should be taken as a compliment.)

And so it is that Vernon’s second Bon Iver album – the follow-up to 2008’s hugely popular backwoods confessional For Emma, Forever Ago – rolls out many of Gayngs’ seductive-rock tropes and stadium-band arrangements, while going easy on the self-made intimacies that accounted for Bon Iver’s much-revered debut.

Where For Emma… won fans with its unplugged cabin-fever odes to isolation and heartbreak, Bon Iver is an altogether warmer, bigger, more welcoming beast – from the electric crescendos of opener ‘Perth’, through the string-drawn drive-rock of ‘Towers’, to the nigh-on parodic AM balladry of ‘Beth/Rest’.

Vernon’s fuzzy-focus falsetto is embraced by classic heart-rock, double vocals, midnight sax, tear-jerking riffage, Chicago keyboards and Live Aid drumming, and The List is such a sucker for the lot of it that it almost feels exploited by this record. Of course, we love it.

Bon Iver - Calgary

Bon Iver and The Staves

Justin Vernon returns with more delicate and beautiful acoustic folk and Americana in support of his second, eponymously titled album.

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