I first heard Bon Iver probably where a lot of people first heard Bon Iver, on “Lost In the World,” on Kanye West’s album from last year, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (a pretty brilliant work, one that shows Kanye’s remarkable ear for sampling quite well – although his lyricism in rapping is really doesn’t meet his own hype). Justin Vernon, lead singer and founder of Bon Iver, was but a collaborator, a second banana to Kanye, but after listening to his 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago and this year’s Bon Iver, Bon Iver, he really is so much more.
It’s a captivating falsetto Vernon has – one that, frankly, sounds a lot better in the studio than on the stage – rarely is it presented triumphantly, almost always vulnerable. But there’s some real beauty in that. Take, for example, “Skinny Love” off of For Emma and “Holocene” from Bon Iver, Bon Iver:
Sometimes Vernon sounds a little out-of-this-world, like on “The Wolves”:
And, again, rarely, Bon Iver actually sounds like a rock band, like here on “Perth,” the opening track to Bon Iver, Bon Iver: