- After making his debut with a collection of hushed, intimate folk songs recorded in a cabin, Bon Iver stretched his artistic legs by collaborating with Kanye West and experimenting with Auto-Tune on a 2009 EP. Released two years later, this sophomore album continues those changes by turning its back on the hushed sound of For Emma, Forever Ago. In its place are dense arrangements and orchestral instruments.
Rolling Stone (p.82) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "'Hinnom, TX' sets off brass and static bursts like distant fireworks; 'Minnesota, WI' blends what sounds like banjos with gnarly brass swells and R&B horns..."
Rolling Stone (p.70) - Ranked #21 in Rolling Stone's '50 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "Vernon's private world is a soft-rock heaven of the mind."
Spin (p.69) - "Once again, he cultivates an enchanted atmosphere, with gorgeous melodies, unique textures, and beautiful singing..."
Spin (p.49) - Ranked #14 in Spin's 'The Top 40 Albums Of 2011' -- "[I]magine a nice, cozy room full of ambitious friends boldly molding an inscrutable art-folk masterpiece."
Entertainment Weekly (p.73) - "[A]n emboldened Vernon achieves a beautiful fantasy all his own, backed by a full band and buoyed with horns and pedal steel." -- Grade: A-
Entertainment Weekly (p.100) - Ranked #4 in Entertainment Weekly's 'The Top 10 Albums Of 2011' -- "[H]is passion for gentle synth jams comes through so clearly, he makes Auto-Tune sound sincere."
Alternative Press (p.122) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[B]eautiful and heartrending. It's something far too busy and layered to be labeled as mere indie folk..."
Magnet (p.39) - Ranked #13 in Magnet's '20 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "It manages to be both sweeping and widescreen, yet intimate and inviting..."
CMJ - "This is the sound of a man awake in the world and reaching outward, and it'll make you want to wrap your arms around the entire human race."
Paste (magazine) - "It retains the beautiful melancholy of FOR EMMA, but in nearly every way, it's just more. More layered, more diverse, more interesting."
Clash (magazine) - "[W]hile 'Holocene' and 'Calgary', for example, retain the same spectral beauty of the first album, they're multi-dimensional compositions rather than songs."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.88) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] glorious celebration of -- and experimentation with -- sound....This is a luxurious record, with Vernon's simple songs filtered and engorged at every turn."
Uncut (magazine) (p.34) - Ranked #9 in Uncut's '50 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "BON IVER was ambitious, fanatically detailed, but still warm and poignant..."