Bon Iver

For those of you who expect a complete essay about the beginnings of Bon Iver, the reception of each album and what not, Google and Wikipedia will most definitely give you what you are looking for. I won’t bother, sorry, not sorry. No seriously, don’t expect me to ever do that. But hey! I’m not that bad! Here are a few things you might want to know if you have decided to read this and have not left already.

  • Bon Iver isn’t actually a guy. (It’s not a girl either, though.) It’s the name of the band.
  • The guy you might have been thinking of before (the one on the featured image) is Justin Vernon; the lead singer, songwriter, and basically the only member anybody knows of. How sad.
  • This dude was so heartbroken after a breakup that he said ‘fuck it’ and left for a cabin in Wisconsin. He stayed there for a solid three months and came back with his debut album in hand like nothing happened.*
    *The legend says.

Disclaimer: (Because I’d rather you did not sue my ass.) I will not be judging the band itself but the work. I don’t care about the men, I just care about their music, and so should you. They’re handsome and charming? Some of them like fighting crime at night? The one who plays the triangle is currently dating a squirrel? This is none of my concern, and I really couldn’t care less. They earned their fame thanks to their music, let’s just keep it that way.

re: Stacks

Title: re: Stacks — What kind of a title is that anyway? Like, for real.
Album: For Emma, Forever Ago — I hope this Emma is filled with regrets now.

Well, that one is a hell of a song… or rather, it’s heaven for lovers. (See what I did there? That’s called a pun, I can teach you sometime.) This one is among their most acclaimed works, and is also known for being a beautiful love song. And there most definitely is a reason, trust me on that.

For Emma, Forever Ago album cover
© Justin Vernon

Bon Iver is famous for their easy melodies and the iconic voice: when put together, you get a shitload of powerful feelings, and you get this masterpiece. Yet surprisingly enough, if you take a look at the lyrics, these are weird-ass words to use for a declaration of love — did you ever get a one-night stand by saying the word ‘excavation’? for that’s some serious skills right there. And of course he had to advocate the over-consumption of alcohol — what’s next? smoking grass, snorting heroine, clubbing baby seals to death? you sick fucks — because this dude is suffering. But the thing is, all of his pain drowns in the beauty of his love.

Even if I sound cliche saying that, re: Stacks is not just one more love song, it is a very special type of love song. It does not rest solely on telling the world how much you love your other half — you know, with the butterflies in your stomach and the raging boner in your pants (okay that was bad taste, I take that back). Instead, all you are left with is the tenderness of the notes, the smoothness of the voice, and the sincerity of the words. Needless to say, I get pretty high listening to this, feeling things I didn’t even know I could feel. It’s like I’m tripping balls, I shit you not. But without eating shrooms, just listening to music.

Woods

Title: Woods — Bon Iver would have made such a fine tribe of earthbenders...
Album: Blood Bank — Proudly sponsored by the American Red Cross.

After the weird lyrics, let’s take a look at the more regular ones which could be summed up by ‘screw this, two lines repeated over and over are more than enough’. I am not exaggerating, they didn’t even write down 20 words for this, which is incredibly ballsy. (Plus, the only additional instrument is auto-tune!)

Blood Bank album cover
© Justin Vernon

Okay kids, I’m gonna try and make a metaphor for Woods, watch me! For five minutes, you are watching a candle slowly burning out, your eyes are lost on the flickering flame and your mind has gone completely numb. What you are left with in the end is just the trail of smoke and the dying crackling of the mesh and the sweet, sweet scent of it all.

So no, this isn’t a joyful song. You might already be shouting at your screen ‘thank you Captain Obvious, what the fuck am I paying you for?’ but let me finish — or actually, keep going, you ain’t paying me shit. What I mean by that is that this isn’t a song. This isn’t to be taken as a song. This is a cry for help. Most people express their sorrow crying out loud with all kinds of fluids over their faces (tears, saliva, snot… much glamour, so elegance, wow). And some others decide to deal with the pain by writing music, and when they do, and they happen to be a member of Bon Iver, the result is just OP as fuck — overpowered, for those of you who happen to have a life, unlike me.

And if you give in to the music and accept not to just listen to it but to experience it, that wailing — let’s call a spade a spade, now shall we? — is gonna make you cry like a bitch. At least it has for me.

Beth/Rest

Title: Beth/Rest — Day 167: still trying to understand why, send victuals.
Album: Bon Iver — All the inspiration was put into the music, I guess?

So by now you must have gone through a plethora of emotions, each stronger than the last. But wait, there is more. This song has actual instruments in it. And obviously, they’re on freaking point. I was kind of hoping they did not use any in other songs because they couldn’t play shit, but nah, those fuckers are good at everything.

Bon Iver album cover
© Justin Vernon

I have never been the kind of guy who makes music, because I suck at this, so instead I just review stuff. Yet I did play the flute when I was twelve. Ladies, I’m gonna have to ask you to calm down. I know this is sexy as fuck but let’s be civilized about it, please put your shirts back on. Ahem. Not playing any instrument has allowed me to enjoy any song regardless of its musical complexity. (Yup, I’m basically telling you that I don’t know shit about any of this and that my opinion is worthless.) This has proved to be a blessing in disguise time and again. Listening to Bon Iver, I don’t know if the piano is good, if the guy at the drums is doing his job… I just feel like the tone is right, and that the harmony is ridiculously perfect. Somehow, this song makes me feel like I’m somewhere I belong. And that I’m batshit crazy, because at some point I swear I could hear mermaids calling. Actual freaking mermaids.

It keeps you waiting, asking for more, and you’re just dying for the bass to drop like in one of those trash-hardcore dubstep songs, but what you get is even better. Beth/Rest is one of those slow yet intense songs you can listen to when lying down — or during your hardcore breakdancing sessions for all I care — and which will put a smile on your face. You have every reason to love it. And if you don’t, that’s okay, I respect that. (But you’re a cunt.)