With the 2007 release of Bon Iver's breakthrough album "For Emma, Forever Ago," the outfit's sole proprietor, Justin Vernon, created one of the most romanticized folktales in recent music history.
Sparked by heartache and recorded in his family's Wisconsin cabin during Vernon's personal hibernation, the quietly-released album crept and crept into the mainstream musical consciousness until capturing the hearts of even those who resisted the initial hype, eventually selling 335,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Even superstars like Kanye West could not turn a blind eye to Vernon's subtle brilliance and soaring falsetto pipes. And it seems West, who featured Vernon on his "My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy," inspired a twinge of theatricality on Bon Iver's self-titled sophomore release, out today (June 21).
Nestled among folk songs for the introspective set (like "Holocene" and "Towers") and dramatic piano-and-strings tracks (like "Wash") are bold instrumental steps that turn decidedly away from those of the folk variety. Horns and synth punctuate the tracks -- most of which are named for or reference locations -- and a grandiose (albeit head-scratching) ode to the quintessential '80s ballad closes "Bon Iver."
So while "Bon Iver" shines overall, you may be wondering which tracks on the album gleam the brightest. Here's our Twitter-length track-by-track review of each song.
You be the judge: What do you think of Bon Iver's "Bon Iver"? Tweet us your own review at @billboarddotcom (using hashtag #bbboniver). The best tweets will be posted on Billboard.com in the coming days.
1. "Perth" - Justin Vernon has described this one as a "Civil War-sounding heavy metal song." He may have a career in music writing.
2. "Minnesota, WI" - Deft finger-picking on banjo & poetic nature imagery make this slow burner a folkie homerun. "Never gonna break," Vernon mummers repeatedly.
3. "Holocene" - Another brilliant instrumental crescendo, with Colin Stetson's sax line weaved in beautifully. Milwaukee, which is called out in the song, should be proud
4. "Towers" - Vernon gets extraordinarily literary with his lyrics on this one. Lyrically, on "Bon Iver," it's all up for interpretation - or at least more than it was on "For Emma.
5. "Michicant" - In his own delicate, heady way, Vernon recants a loss of innocence. Leaves us w/ this gem: "Love can hardly leave the room with your heart."
6. "Hinnom, TX" - Leans a bit more freak than folk & it's a welcomed change. Vernon's deep voice interupts the party of trippy synths like an ominous narrator.
7. "Wash." - Vernon said tracks relate to locations, so while repeated mentioning of "Claire" on this gorgeous piano ballad suggests love interest, perhaps it's an ode to his hometown of Eau Claire, WI. Album highlight.
8. "Calgary" - This first single seems a downer choice until two-minute mark. Some of the album's most rocking guitar moments, tempered by acoustic picking.
9. "Lisbon, OH" - One has to wonder what struck Vernon about Lisbon, Ohio. Pop. roughly 3,000, along PA border. Yet the track sounds like ambient outer space.
10. "Beth/Rest" - The 1st time you hear this song, you may laugh aloud. Let all its parts sink in, and you may realize it's one of the best tracks of 2011.