Top Album of 2011 Bon Iver, Bon Iver

By Rachel Danner — After a three year hiatus, Bon Iver’s front man Justin Vernon moved himself out of the cabin that made his first record For Emma, Forever Ago famous, added nine new members to his three-man band, and released the most genuine, honest, and groundbreaking album of 2011.

Vernon’s hiatus would hardly be considered unproductive though. On top of writing and recording for Bon Iver from 2008-2010 he collaborated with Kanye West on the platinum album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on tracks such as “Monster” and “Lost in the World”. Vernon also teamed up with brother band GAYNGS and was featured in several tracks with band mate Mike Noyce on their album Relayted.

While listening to For Emma, Forever Ago listeners could expect Bon Iver to be just as somber, falsetto, and relaxing as Vernon’s pervious work, and it was just that. Rather than recreating the quiet success of For Emma, Vernon recreated the emotional outpouring of his first album and then took it to the next level.

The album compiles various risky sounds and ties them together perfectly. From the heavy Civil War drums on the opening track “Perth” to the uncanny rhyme schemes on “Minnesota, WI” and the 80’s synthesizer on “Beth/Rest” Vernon uses his imagination and his band to his advantage. Some songs seem to be filled with joy while others recreate the somber feeling displayed in For Emma.

The success of Bon Iver has hardly gone unnoticed. Not only debuting number one on Billboards Rock, Independent, and Alternative charts the album has been nominated for four Grammys against artists such as Nicki Minaj, Adele, and Katy Perry. The track “Holocene” is up for record of the year and song of the year while the album Bon Iver is up for best alternative album and the band is up for best new artist.

Along with the release of the album on June 21st, 2011 Bon Iver released the deluxe edition on November 29th through iTunes that includes vivid video accompaniments for each song. Vernon stated that the videos are supposed to portray the feelings you experience while listening to the album in visual form.

Listeners with different music tastes will enjoy the diverse sounds discovered in this album. After exceeding the public’s expectations of what Vernon’s sophomore album would be it only leaves listeners with one thought, what will Bon Iver do next?

[Updated Aug. 6, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]