Album: Bon Iver, Bon Iver (4AD)

  • @simmyrichman

The commercial and critical success of Bon Iver's 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago took everyone – not least its creator Justin Vernon – by surprise. It shouldn't have.

For once the songs lived up to the backstory – man loses health, band and girl and goes to live in remote cabin where he demos the songs that would change his luck.

And if all that seemed unlikely, the following years would see Vernon guesting with Kanye West, having his song "Skinny Love" enter the UK top 20 courtesy of a 15-year-old girl and generally being hailed some sort of new folk god. Not an easy debut to follow up, then. So Vernon has side-stepped the issue by producing an album as rich as For Emma... was sparse, with musical friends brought in to add layers of strings and synths etc.

In spite of this, the mood of uplifting-melancholia survives and this time out Vernon needs no dramatic backstory. Clearly, his is a talent that loves company as much as it loves misery.