Wisconsin songsmith Justin Vernon has been a lot of places since releasing the first Bon Iver record. For Emma, Forever Ago may have propelled him to indie-fame, but between then and now he’s delved into minimal, experimental territory with Volcano Choir, R&B slow jams with Gayngs, and of course collaborated with pop enigma Kanye West on his epic prog hip-hop opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In June, Vernon revives the project that ultimately made him with the quasi self-titled sophomore record Bon Iver, Bon Iver… and not without showing he’s learned a thing or two on his musical journey of the past few years.
Opening with a mournful synth drone reminiscent of a Phil Collins ballad, “Calgary” finds Vernon’s falsetto immediately recalling that icy winter of pained nostalgia that he crafted so well on For Emma. Yet, it seems clear that Vernon is in a considerably more enjoyable place. As the song builds, the undercurrent of sadness is overwhelmed by driving percussion and bright guitar tones, maintaining its emotional depth all the while flirting with downright playfulness. Fans of the first record shouldn’t be disappointed, but rather excited for an expansion into a space at once fresh and familiar.
Stream/download “Calgary” in the widget below and pre-order Bon Iver, Bon Iver right here.