Boomkat Product Review:
After an impressive 2008, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon follows up on the universal acclaim of For Emma, Forever Ago album with this four song EP, recorded in a variety of locations (one of which was the by-now fabled Wisconsin cabin where he recorded the aforementioned For Emma...), and circumnavigating a variety of different musical territories along the way. We begin with a title track that follows on neatly from the established Bon Iver canon, sounding all minimal, desolate and icy but for the warmth and humility supplied by that signature multitracked vocal. 'Beach Baby' strips back yet further, supplementing a strummed acoustic backdrop with drifts of Hawaiian-style slide guitar. Next, 'Babys' (sic) hammers out a repetitive piano motif that could be something from a Steve Reich piece, whilst layering on a few atmospheric string plucks and a wave of polyphonic falsetto. 'Woods' is the biggest surprise here though: it's Bon Iver's 808s & Heartbreak moment - a veritable chorale of Autotune. It may seem strange for an artist so closely associated with a raw sound (generally characterised by seemingly unfussy arrangements) to embrace such an overtly technologically-driven aesthetic, but oddly it works a treat and only underlines Vernon's remarkable knack for constructing songs around carefully stacked vocal harmonies.