I, unlike most people I know, liked the last Bon Iver record. I admired it because it was something different from the first. Sometimes you cannot win. Especially if you are Justin Vernon – it was a no win situation. Do the same thing and your fans lap it up, but critics destroy you for not sticking to what made you brilliant. Do things differently and you might gain more critical praise but you run the risk of losing some fans along the way. So it’s a tricky place to be. Thing is, I don’t think he did all the much differently – just added more to the sound – and received mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.
Volcano Choir are all together a different proposition then. Debut album ‘Unmap’ is pretty experimental. Never really focusing on straight up song writing. Definitely a side project for Vernon at that time. Now though, there is more of a song-writing focus, there is more Bon Iver than experimental – he sings more for a start – and there is more direction and purpose.
‘Repave’ is an exciting follow up then for the reasons outlined above. It’s great to have them back, perhaps something is lost in the more song-writing focus – but the experimentation is there and whilst Vernon gives the record an anchor with his voice, this is most definitely not Bon Iver mark III. Well worth checking out then.