AOTY 2018

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Critic Score
Based on 32 reviews
2011 Ratings: #16 / 901
Year End Rank: #2
User Score
Based on 767 ratings
2011 Ratings: #3
June 21, 2011 / Release Date
LP / Format
Jagjaguwar / Label
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boniver.org / Website
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Skinny

In facing great expectations, Vernon has simply turned and walked away from the legacy of his debut; rather than attempt to emulate the intimate cabin fever of that album, he has crafted an expansive and ambitious piece – a compelling listen from start to finish.

100
The Guardian

Whether exploring supple R&B in Minnesota, WI, joyful country in Towers, or swollen soft-rock in Beth/Rest, Bon Iver remains rooted in the emotional sincerity that made Vernon's debut so mesmerising.

100
NOW Magazine

The 10 unconventionally structured songs are less shaky-tent-in-a-snowstorm and more ambitious-skyscraper-blasting-into-the sky.

100
God Is in the TV

Justin Vernon may have just bettered what is already considered a classic debut album. This is a glorious, daring record that deserves to be huge.

95
Pitchfork

After the closeness and austerity of For Emma, Vernon has given us a knotty record that resists easy interpretation but is no less warm or welcoming.

91
A.V. Club

For all its introspection, Bon Iver feels a lot more open than Vernon’s previous work, the sound of a lonely guy taking his first steps into a larger world.

91
Pretty Much Amazing

As Vernon himself admits, this record is a sounds-first album, leading with the how rather than the what. While not a complete sea change, it’s a new approach for Vernon, who finds his Bon Iver project graced with both the tools and the audience for such an approach.

91
Entertainment Weekly

An emboldened Vernon achieves a beautiful fantasy all his own, backed by a full band and buoyed with horns and pedal steel.

90
Paste

It retains the beautiful melancholy of For Emma, but in nearly every way, it’s just more. More layered, more diverse, more interesting.

90
Consequence of Sound

The album is a shoo-in for being a timeless great, no matter what we say.

90
Sputnikmusic

The entire album is a collaborative project ... yet each song acts like a personal journal entry, documenting Justin Vernon’s experience back with the living, after being with the ghosts of memory for some time.

87
Beats Per Minute

It’s a rich and intricate collage that shows restraint in its cascade of ideas as well as Vernon’s maturity as a songwriter.

85
Coke Machine Glow

Bon Iver, Bon Iver is wrought using a dazzling pointillism. Producer Vernon has carefully studded his album with thousands of cul-de-sacs of grace and poise and lavishly attended precision.

80
musicOMH

Those who approach Bon Iver with open minds and open ears will with repeated listens find that Vernon has not strayed too far from his original raison d'etre.

80
Spin

Vernon re-accesses that potent sense of self on Bon Iver, a stunning sophomore set whose landscape-painting cover art underscores the idea that his songs inhabit their own psychological space.

80
Drowned in Sound

Justin Vernon and his crew have changed things up here for sure, but the results are every bit as beautiful as you might expect.

80
Tiny Mix Tapes

It is undeniably an album about “growth,” and it has a way of pushing you out of your comfort zone.

80
No Ripcord

Bon Iver embarks on a sustainable new direction for the band and is evidence of a successful transition from one-off wonder to durable outfit.

80
Under The Radar

It's a logical progression from Emma, and one that few artists have been able to make. Most try to return to their wallowing, to mine the same material that connected them with their audience in the first place. But Vernon deserves tremendous credit for wanting to express his hope and his joy.

80
American Songwriter

Vernon’s taken the ingredients that made For Emma transcend its bedroom folkie origins and fly – the hushed, multi-tracked falsetto vocals, the indelible melodies, the evocative, heartbroken lyrics – and expanded upon them.

80
Slant Magazine

For much of Bon Iver, Vernon takes his cues from Volcano Choir, using an array of disparate instrumentation and looping effects to beautifully eerie effect.

80
Clash

It makes these ten tracks slightly less immediate, but just as moving. A wonderful, worthy follow-up.

80
Alternative Press

The project is no longer shackled to the minimal, one-man strum of For Emma, but it's all the more beautiful and heart-rending. 

80
Prefix

It is, upon first listen, an undeniably beautiful record. But how that beauty was created takes some time to figure out. You need to dive in and untangle these tightly woven parts. You have to weave through the layered vocals to get at the emotional core of these songs.

80
The Observer

Vernon's focus has widened but his strange siren song is just as alluring.

75
The 405

It is still a very good album, with some pretty songs, but it lacks For Emma, Forever Ago's sense of balance – of completeness.

70
NME

Those looking for the raw catharsis of ‘For Emma…’ will need to cop their misery fix elsewhere – ‘Bon Iver’ is the sound of a man making peace with the world, saxophones and all.

70
Rolling Stone

The ideas on Bon Iver — Colin Stetson's shimmery horn parts, Rob Moose's elegant arrangements — are engaging even when they don't lead anywhere, and the music is beautiful, even when it veers into schmaltz.

70
Spectrum Culture

Bon Iver represents the full, sweeping scale of what Vernon intended in the first place, this time with his touring band in tow.

60
PopMatters

Despite its hype, its expectations, its blown up sound, and its many production flourishes, Bon Iver is nothing more than a solid placeholder album.

60
The Needle Drop

Just because we've got a ton of new sounds doesn't mean they've been arranged or mixed all that well.

50
AllMusic

Though he can be praised for not just copying himself and trying to progress, to be honest, For Emma, Pt. 2 would have been far more satisfying than this overblown debacle.

JFulfy
100
Every single song is a masterpiece and unique. Justin Vernon's voice is so unique and so defined. I always come back to this album because it is the best when it comes to albums as a whole. Every song has a story also that YOU as the listener can create. You take what you are hearing, and make it your own. The best ones for me is Wash, Halocene, and Towers.
AmericaanSpirit
85
Utterly brilliant at times, gorgeously soft at others. Outside of the one or two low points in creativity this record has, it's closer to indie folk perfection than most artists have achieved.

BEST TRACKS: Michicant, Wash, Perth, Towers, Holocene, Minnesota WI
siberianbreaks
NR
Same problem for me with the first album. Fantastic songwriting, but lackluster instrumentation.

Favourite tracks: Holocene, Perth, Towers
musicmagpie55
95
Justin Vernon fucks me up so right
Pamford45
95
God, this is fucking beautiful. This album feels like I'm around a campfire in the middle of the forest while the sun sets up, enjoying the freedom of being in the wild. I'm rating this a 9 for now but damn, this might be a 10...

EDIT (100): Yeah, it is.
EDIT 2 (95): Ok, maybe not
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Track List

  1. Perth 
  2. Minnesota, WI 
  3. Holocene 
  4. Towers 
  5. Michicant 
  6. Hinnom, TX 
  7. Wash. 
  8. Calgary 
  9. Lisbon, OH 
  10. Beth/Rest
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