herald

Sunday 20 January 2019

Growl

They must have some pissy-arsed wolves in the woods of Winsconsin. It was in a shack there you'll remember that broken-hearted Justin Vernon holed up after he split with his girlfriend and his band. Who celebrated his departure the most, I wonder.

Feeling sorry for himself, Justin spent the winter (a good winter, if you're to read any significance into his cutesy stage name) whining like a one-man Supertramp karaoke machine.

There was snow outside but where were the wolves? Any canis lupus worth its salt would have ripped out his throat with tooth and claw.

The fact that the local wolverine population has it too easy these days has resulted in further affliction for the rest of us. Nature is not doing its job and we suffer.

Bon Iver will never be confused with doomed AC/DC frontman Bon Scott. More's the pity. Cos pity is Justin's stock in trade. At least we think it is.

Teams of language scholars and demented fans have pored over the lyrics on his new album and agree, nothing makes sense.

Admirers insist it's this vague sense of nonsensical emptiness, where molocules

of nothingness swirl like a blizzard of snowflakes in a car's headlights, that marks the true genius of the man.

His 2007 album, For Emma, Forever Ago, beguiled the befuddled and made him one rich whinger. There's money in misery. Now he's back. And, in an age when the entrails of rock'n'roll dangle from the gallows of commercial expediency, Bon Iver by Bon Iver will be hailed as a classic.

A classic of what? Grotesque schmaltz? Cynical pranksterism? Sonic wallpaper?

There's no denying that his music sits well in TV soundtracks. It's suitable in bite-sized snippets for sausage-selling (or at least Miller Genuine Draft).

This time out, Justin invites various buddies to garnish his meandering tropes. And so we get another scattershot (an apt term for a bloke who is hyped as having shot deer to eat in his wretched cabin) selection of duff prog buffed to a high sheen in a remarkable feat of mixing as myriad instruments glide in and out while Justin's double-tracked falsetto presides in excelsis. The pontiff of pomposity and piffle, that's Bon Iver.



doodles

Aled Jones for a generation of beards, the new album is beyond pleasant. But the arch attempt to unify his ragbag doodles by giving them titles of geographical locations and then failing to come up with an album title, should be warning enough.

Bon Iver is an MOR fluffer. Not just an indie rock bluffer.

His talent is to successfully plunder a range of influences from Bruce Hornsby to Sufjan Stevens, slap on a few tricks learned from his local high-school band and then bleat like Art Garfunkle with his appendage caught in a zipper.

Next time you're in the woods. Don't feed the bears. We've got to keep them hungry. Ravenously hungry.

HHIII

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