Review – Blood Bank by Bon Iver

Bon Iver was, along with Fleet Foxes, one of the big new things of 2008. The backstory was interesting, with a chap called Justin Vernon so hacked off with the breakup of a relationship that he tootled off to his dad’s shack out in the woods of Wisconsin to mope get over it. And what with the wonders of modern technology, he wrote an album there too. It won plaudits all over the shop, but personally, I was a little underwhelmed. It just seemed a bit, you know, whiny, frankly. And I’m a big fan of whininess, but I personally like a bit more grit, like say, Nick Drake (who was so unhappy he possibly killed himself), or Elliott Smith (who was so unhappy he almost certainly killed himself).

Not that I want my rock stars dead or anything, but you know, if you’re going to be miserable, do it about something proper; like serious depression, drug addiction, or the horrific death of your entire immediate family from a hideous, tragic, and somewhat hilarious accident involving a cauliflower. Not that your bird has dumped you. Seriously, just get over it by going out, doing tons of drugs and putting yourself at extreme risk of catching a sexual disease. Go on, Bonnie mate, get pissed and shag a stripper, it’ll cheer you up immensely.

Oh, and as for the story about killing deer, what did you do, sing to them until they fell into a coma?

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, and the album just hasn’t caught in my mind properly yet. Sometimes music does that – you think “Meh” the first few listens and the next thing you know, you’re getting out of bed at 3am just to go and have another listen.

Which leads me onto this. Blood Bank is the new EP by our miserable cabin-bothering chum, recorded with his touring band, and it’s…well, not a huge difference really. It’s quite pleasant in an undemanding way, or at least until you get to the final (fourth) track, Woods. And here Bonny “Moany” Iver breaks out the Autotune in order to become the acoustic guitar playing Kanye West. The result? Well, it’s interesting, I suppose. The problem is, when you try something different, is whether the technique you try adds anything of value. See, for example, Grizzly Bear with production I can best describe as immensely creepy, or Animal Collective. Both manage to sound hugely different even though, underneath their songs are fairly normal (Marla, by Grizzly Bear, is a 50-year old song, but manages to sound both modern and ancient at once). But Woods, to me, sounds like someone arsing around. Still, it could lead onto more interesting things, so good luck to you, fella.

Maybe I really am just being harsh. Hey, give it a try yourself.

Woods by Bon Iver