Album Review
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago Album Cover

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Reviewed by
Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago
Record Label: Jagjaguwar Records
Release Date: February 19, 2008
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Dim the lights and close the blinds. Lock yourself into the intricately personal sounds of For Emma, Forever Ago. Cringe a little bit because I’m the poor fool who’s going to incorrectly analyze songs as pure as the human heart. Pretend I’m intellectually prepared to discuss lines like “So apropos / Saw death on a sunny snow.” Disregard anything I say that seems faulty, odd or lackluster. Believe in yourself and the true meaning of Bon Iver; you’re right. Relax while feeling on edge. Drift in and out of consciousness with expectations of newfound layers. Appreciate.

Justin Vernon. Vernon, Justin. Bon Iver. How had I been so cruel and deleted, nay, doubted your work so long ago? Was I at so lackluster a musical state that I couldn’t appreciate the drum segues of “Creature Fear” into the soulful grooves of “Team?” What made me cast aside the folky acoustic guitars of “Flume?” The dense orchestrations fit so wonderfully with Vernon’s high-pitched, full-bodied vocal layers. How did I not cherish them?! I’ve forgiven myself, but I’m still embarrassed. Talking about it helps, as does listening to the sparse-to-uplifting chaos of “The Wolves (Act I and II).” The song follows a timeline of anguish. Long, acoustic strums and achy vocals mimic our disbelief; the gospel-lite vocals are hopeful horizons; the building, rumbling drums are a returning confidence; the painfully quiet outro has us back to square one, sleeping alone in a bed made for two.

“For Emma” and “Re: Stacks” bring the album to its completion in a satisfying fashion. Burgeoning horns and abnormally happy guitar strums make “For Emma” a song for the transition from winter to spring. Vernon’s voice borders on chipper and full-fledged orchestral pop becomes yet another style Vernon masters. “Re: Stacks” stands alone like its creator. A frigid mood will have you picturing Vernon shivering as he sings “This is pouring rain / This is paralyzed.” Hushed melodies and large atmospheres continually manipulate the size and scope of For Emma, Forever Ago, but on this song Vernon’s deception is complete. Despite it all, despite the isolation, despite the unending echoes, For Emma, Forever Ago is a happy record. It’s a triumph gift wrapped personally for each and every one of us. Learn from it with a smile.

One man becomes a band of 10. One man becomes the embodiment of lonely productivity. Whatever made me initially disregard For Emma, Forever Ago has thankfully passed. Since reacquiring the record, it’s been a constant period of reflection and discovery. Music has a lot to live up to this year.

Recommended If You Like: Neil Young's "A Man Needs A Maid," David Karsten Daniels, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, wood, snow, crows, simplicity, Smog, fog

you've gotta live to lovewww.myspace.com/boniver
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 57
06:23 PM on 05/01/08
Rich Duncan
Album Reviewer
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Awesome review Blake, I think your review captured the essence of this album perfectly. This is one of my favorites this year, I cannot belive how long it took for me to finally check it out.
06:29 PM on 05/01/08
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cereal4life's Avatar
This album is so for me; you won't find a bigger fan of crows, smog and fog than me! I've been meaning to check this out for a while now. Now I'm definitely going to get it. Good review Blake!

Whenever I see that album cover I think it's the cover to Owen's A Day At Home With Owen with the bottom half all scratched out. Whack!

On a sidenote, one of the staff should review the new Elbow album The Seldom Seen Kid! Pretty please.
07:04 PM on 05/01/08
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Absolutely beautiful album. I've only had the chance to listen to it about four times, but each song is already embedded in my head. It's so simple, but it really pulls you in.

It reminds me a lot of Mark Hollis, which had similar effects on me.
07:45 PM on 05/01/08
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tait's Avatar
good review. still have to check this out
08:05 PM on 05/01/08
Not that easy to confuse
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Poochemist's Avatar
Damn, sounds like a good album.
08:05 PM on 05/01/08
how to make love stay
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funkel's Avatar
Won't leave my top 5 albums for this year, for sure. Beautiful album.
10:03 PM on 05/01/08
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liar23's Avatar
Beautiful album;one of my favourites of the year
10:13 PM on 05/01/08
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Blakebear's Avatar
such a great album...

if you can see this man live, do it!!!

it is a life changing experience.
10:45 PM on 05/01/08
Blake Solomon
A tree you cannot cut.
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such a great album...

if you can see this man live, do it!!!

it is a life changing experience.

don't hate me, but i missed his visit to my town last month...
10:56 PM on 05/01/08
couch coaches dot company
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TheOtherAndrew's Avatar
Great review. I haven't given this album the attention it deserves, but after listening to it twice all the way through I pretty much agree with everything you said.
01:04 AM on 05/02/08
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Blakebear's Avatar
don't hate me, but i missed his visit to my town last month...

I can't hate you... I can only pity you...

I also missed him last time he was here. He came a few weeks ago and I was supposed to be getting a press pass and interview. Unfortunately the venue didn't give Bon Iver's management any passes, so I was shafted and the concert sold out. I did however see him back in October before I knew who he was. It was just him without his band in a small theater that wasn't even full. Super intimate, super awesome. I was blown away, and this was before I had ever heard of him or heard his music.

I also refused to skip class to interview him when that was the only time they would give me. So, don't hate me...
05:52 AM on 05/02/08
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ddb43's Avatar
I agree w/ you totally. This album eases my soul. What a masterpiece.
07:26 AM on 05/02/08
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I LOVE this album.

Great review.
07:54 AM on 05/02/08
on the edge of summer
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awesome review for a really good album; doesn't deserve that high ratings on lyrics.

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