2 January 2009

Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP

It’s hard to write about Bon Iver without disintegrating into plaid shirt cliches and log cabin metaphors (not to mention melancholy), but there’s something so whiskey-hazed warm and familiar about the opening hymnal notes of ‘Blood Bank’ that it’s hard not to. Throw in some trademark gruff falsetto crooning about kisses in the snow and the creak of Christmas morning, and you’ve pretty much got a Pitchfork reader’s wet dream right there. But all crassness aside, this is the kind of EP that makes you want to embrace under the covers all weekend, avoiding the harsh chilling bite of reality whilst swooning to the ‘Wolves Pt. I & III’-esque “I know you well” refrain. The identikit reviews which trailed ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ labelled it as being haunting, but rather than pressing you to confront ghosts and skeletons that you’d rather forget, ‘Blood Bank EP’ is more akin to the comforting spirit of a lost friend, there to hold you through lock and key protected feelings and make you realise that it’s not so bad after all. The folorn romantic of Justin Vernon’s debut remains only in tone (there’s seemingly a Mrs Iver on the scene), as he heavily accepts the reproductive purpose of humans on ‘Babys’ (sic), which opens with a peculiarly detached cinematic feel. It’s only ‘Woods’ that jars, a vocoder-ed baying at the moon that’s so uncharacteristically Bon Iver that you wonder whether it’s a flippant musical two fingers up to the critics who pigeonholed his debut. But that aside, anyone who’s spent 2008 holed up in their bedroom trying to stop tears falling into their keyboard whilst listening to ‘For Emma…’ isn’t about to be granted a reprieve with ‘Blood Bank’.

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