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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

9.5

Bon Iver
Bon Iver

Let's face it, if Bon Iver wanted to keep holding the world by the balls he had to change it up with his second LP. Sure, he could have released another For Emma, Forever Ago and he would've more than likely kept the waistcoat, beret-wearing pelicans with a new found love of all things lo-fi akookstic safely in his pocket. But he would've lost those more discerning and, dare I say, credible fans who are in need of believable freshness and almost constant evolution. With this self titled release Justin Vernon/Bon Iver has not only changed his approach, but he's also somehow managed to eclipse both the all round quality and emotional depth of it's predecessor.

The production style on this album is so appropriately measured in every imaginable way. Everything is subtly done to best serve the tunes. The different colours — be they horns, crunched synths or push bike bells — are used tastefully and then, in most cases, put back on the shelf and not touched again. While this might suggest a lack of continuity, it's actually an acknowledgement of the eclectic nature of the record, whereby these — often tiny — applied details not only tie the album together but also broaden it's scope. Perhaps most notable on the production front is that every passing sound is given it's own pocket of space in terms of frequency. You really hear and feel every minute detail. Nothing simply washes into another fragment, merely becoming a part in the bigger wave of sound. Instead each element is unique and respected as such.

Both Holocene and Michicant are great examples of the quality of production, the quality of Vernon's vocal and the amazing heights he has reached as a songwriter and lyricist. On Holocene he sings, "and at once I knew I was not magnificent, I strayed above the highway aisle, and I could see for miles", with his sense of timing, subtly and the power of understatement at their most awe-inspiring. This understated sense of control extends to the song's path as well. He could have easily used the big snare build going into the last chorus to signify an explosion of epic proportions musically and sonically, but instead the restrained and, still in their own way epic sounds at that point, especially that of that deadened and rumbly drums, are so much more gratifying.

Pointing out Holocene and Michicant as highlights shouldn't be construed as them being the cornerstones behind which everything else falls in. Every tune on this album is a highlight in it's own way, and they all work together to create an amazing piece of work. Even closer, Beth/Rest, with it's eighties love ballad instrumentation, somehow works really well. And maybe that's because this is the kind of record that knocks your guard down, makes you remember the innocence of childhood through each lyric, and leaves you floating through the air and not giving a fuck.

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Bon Iver

 

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Comments

Lochy

Nice work Whaley.

7 years ago

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