The album itself is brilliant, but the vinyl wasn't in the best condition i could have expected, around the middle, the covering of it was lumped and the hole in the middle wasn't the correct size and thus it is a tight squeeze to get it on and off the record player.
I would have given this less if the vinyl itself had any faults but luckily it plays fine once i get it on.
Trying to describe this album is like describing what water tastes of - impossible. Clichés were thrown around my head "a masterpiece" "hand-crafted by the Gods" but nothing prepares you for Bon Iver's second album, there is nothing I can compare it to & thus it is completely unique. Justin Vernon, pure of voice, master of the guitar and songwriter like no other brings together more than just conventional folk, more than just wailing falsetto echoes, he brings depth, beauty & magnificence in just the opening bars of the epic Perth. Songs named after USA states, some real, some fictitious (Hinnom, TX). The same nonsensical but powerful lyrics from days of For Emma, Forever Ago remain. Vernon isn't about to give up what makes Bon Iver such a phenomenon. Such bredth of instruments are moulded by Vernon, such a juxtaposition from For Emma where he recorded alone in a Wisconsin cabin with a guitar as his only friend. He's struck gold with bass sax, 2 drum kits, countless guitarists, percussion galore and not forgetting layer upon layer of fautless harmony, each spine-tingling note more compelling than the previous. Star track has to be `Beth/Rest', an almost cheesy synth filled 5 minutes of perfect harmonies and general wonder make this one of my favourite tracks of 2011. If you haven't already, check out this albums and you won't regret it.
This album took me completely by surprise. I stumbled upon it via my love for Talk Talk's utterly sublime album "Spirit of Eden" and reading reviews of that which mentioned Bon Iver as having been influenced by that masterpiece.
It has just got so under my skin with its subtle musicality and Justin Vernon's natural progression from his hugely well-received debut album "for Emma, Forever Ago" - a great album too.
But this album (the "difficult 2nd album") after such a cult success, is a natural progression of the searingly honest and painful emotions that made "For Emma" so important to so many people (check the reviews). It seems to me the sound of someone who is gradually healing and there's a more uplifting, full-bodied tone to most of these songs than the purposeful melancholy of "For Emma".
Whilst "Emma" is soft and delicate and mirrors the desolate iciness of where & when it was recorded this follow-up moves a similar but more vigorous and optimistic palette to what I feel is a much higher level of artistic accomplishment. He is helped in this by the absolutely superb array of musicians he has gathered around him.
The end result is an album that is a delight. But then it grows on you. And after repeated listens all the way through (it is one of those rare beasts ) you realise that this album and artist and band are going to remain a very important part of your musical life.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. One of my favourite albums ever - and I am 56 yrs old!! Solid gold 5 stars.