Bon Iver - Bon Iver
User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 203 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 11 out of 203

Review this album

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. Aug 29, 2011
    9
    This album WOULD be 10/10 if Forever Emma did not exist and this was the first, fresh blast of originality from bon iver. I'd say it's as good as Forever Emma, but it is very similar in tone, though the production and instruments used are more varied and complex - but without being forced or over done. Excellent album!
  2. Dec 21, 2011
    10
    amazing album. The self-titled album is more than likely what Justin Vernon wanted to do originally with his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. He considered those songs demos until they exploded on the internet and on various television shows +1 perfect!
  3. Jun 21, 2011
    0
    Justin! I want to hear your voice reverb over and over. I suppose I'll be happy, as long as, people stop citing Vernon as a great songwriter (comparisons to Dylan??) In a year or two no one will probably mention this album or even be listening to it - until the next indie masterpiece!
  4. Oct 10, 2013
    10
    This is a very easy review to write. Bon Iver has created another great album. The music of Bon Iver is possibly the best music in history, so that's all there is to say about it. Hope Justin Vernon comes out with more!
  5. Aug 17, 2012
    10
    This is a great album, probably even better than For Emma, Forever Ago. It is, in many ways, a very immediate album, with gorgeous melodies that hit the listener instantly and excellent production that lends it a clean feeling. But it can also be a slow-building album. It may take a while for some listeners to wrap their heads around the deliberately cheesy 80s-homage that is "Beth/Rest," but once they do so they'll find that the song buried inside stands out as one of the best on the album. The album is sequenced excellently, with songs flowing into one another and feeling interconnected without ever being same-y and boring. The buildup of the slow, haunting opener "Perth" gets paid off in the frantic, almost country-esque "Minnesota, WI" (which, surprisingly, features Justin Vernon singing in a rich baritone rather than his usual falsetto). "Michican't," "Hinnom, TX," and "Wash" feel like one long alternate-reality indie-folk version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." The closing one-two punch of "Calgary" and "Beth/Rest" contains some of the most brilliant work Bon Iver has ever done. If you're the sort of person who doesn't like slow songs or sad songs this probably isn't the album for you, but if you're of a more mellow disposition or simply appreciate all kinds of music, this is worth checking out. The standout track, in my opinion, would be "Calgary," but the general public seems to prefer "Holocene," so make what you will of that. Expand
  6. Jan 25, 2012
    9
    Bon Iver's sophomore album sounds like Justin Vernon coming out of the woods and out of the "For Emma, Forever Ago" stage. Bon Iver is officially a band that needs to be reckoned with. The instrumentals swoon on this album. Justin Vernon's falsetto is just as gorgeous, if not more, than For Emma. Bon Iver, Bon Iver may not be as fantastic as their debut album, but it's pretty damn close. A-
  7. Jun 21, 2013
    10
    I originally gave this 9 but I had to come back and top up. I don't think I will ever get bored of this amazing collection of ethereal gems. I can't find a flaw with this record its become one my favourite albums ever. The songwriting here is second to none, if I had to pick favourite tracks then Holocene, Perth and Beth/Rest are beautiful, however so is every other track.
  8. Apr 8, 2014
    10
    This is an amazing album. It took me over a year to like it though. I had scored it 0. I couldnt get it. Stuck on a plane for too many hours and listening to it made me realise what i missed. Its epic.
  9. Dec 30, 2011
    9
    Bon Iver is far from being an accessible band. In fact, the first time you listen to their sophomore efforts, you may become very discouraged from their high falsettos. But once you get used to their old-school, light synth-heavy sounds, the album becomes increasingly enjoyable every time you listen to it. It's a surprisingly rewarding record that easily goes down as one of the bests from 2011.
  10. Sep 26, 2011
    8
    I've struggled a little with this one, but eventually I've be won over. Perth, Holocene and Wash are simply outstanding pieces of music. Calgary is simply beautiful. There are some missteps here most notably Beth/Rest which had me looking around to see if Magnum PI had just driven by, it was dripping with a horrific (to me) 80s American sound, it nearly but not quite ruined the whole experience.
  11. Jul 1, 2011
    10
    Near perfect album, in my opinion. Bon Iver perfectly meshed his classic melancholy folk sound with other genres in a way that doesn't change too much, while still changing enough to hold interest. Some judge the album off of the last song, which I think is ridiculous. I happen to love the last song, but that's not why I enjoy the album. Each song holds onto it's own quite well. Great album by a great artist, and I look forward to hearing more from them in the future. Expand
  12. Jun 23, 2011
    9
    Beautiful, calm, and creative. This is the perfect album to listen to while outside in your easy chair on a breezy summer day. Every song comes with a combination of creative lyrics and catchy beats. The must hear songs of the album are "Perth", "Minnesota, WI", "Towers", "Michicant", "Hinnom, TX", and "Calgary". This is one album that you should have in your iTunes library or with the rest of your CDs. Expand
  13. Jul 23, 2011
    8
    i liked this whole album it was decent. it had some good songs. it was a good folk album. if your not a folk music person don't even write an review for this. your just being an hater and a **** solid album
  14. Jun 21, 2011
    9
    When Emma Forever Ago came out, and I finally gave it a listen I was so overcome with emotion just from listening to a few songs on there such "Skinny Love" "For Emma" "Flume" and many more songs. Every time a difficult occurrence came up in my life where sometimes I thought it was too much to handle, I'd throw this album on and all my emotion would be expressed from the voice of Justin Vernon. So when this album came out I was expecting more of the same, maybe "better" produced, but I was wrong. This time Justin comes in with an assortment of strings and even synths, a full band on some songs, and though this might've left me skeptical at first, I ended up loving this album. This album is beautiful. A great album to play while you lay on your hammock or are just sitting back and relaxing. The emotions from the first album are still here, but there is a much bigger sound. There was so much beauty in "Emma, Forever Ago" and I wouldn't say the emotion and beauty has improved since, but I think it's evolved into something new while still capturing those two elements which Justin Vernon's so good at. Expand
  15. Jun 21, 2011
    10
    The perfect follow up to a perfect album. Although this album does not come with the legend associated with the first, Vernon and company are able to successfully go from isolation to rebirth and paint listeners a vivid picture this time not only with the lyrics but with the music as well. The album also brings with it a perfect flow and can keep the listener intrigued through intense musical breakdowns and slower prayer type numbers. I would say this follow up is unbelievable, but Justin Vernon seems to be able to do no wrong in music. Stand out tracks for me personally include: "Perth" "Holocene" "Calgary" and "Beth/Rest." Pick this album up now. Expand
  16. Jun 22, 2011
    10
    This album deserves nothing but amazing reviews. I've been looking forward to this for a while now and was nothing but impressed. Hopefully seeing them in August in either DC or Philly!
  17. Jun 21, 2011
    10
    Occasionally, an album comes along and grows into the soundtrack of a specific time and place. Summer, autumn, winter or spring. A particular road trip, adventure or vacation. Love, hate, happiness or sadness. They become the touchstone triggers of our nostalgia, leading our memories down the paths of our past and present. Those albums we could consider "great."

    But what do you classify
    something better than that? For that you'll have to ask Justin Vernon. Because Bon Iver's long-awaited sophomore album isn't just 10 songs with atmosphere, it's a vacation in the stratosphere. It's not just a step forward, but a mad dash on the back of a Scud missile. This album isn't just good, it's great. And it's as close to perfection as you can get before being burned.

    It's been a busy and fruitful three years for Vernon. He struck critical gold with 2008's "For Emma, Forever Ago," a sparse and haunting LP recorded in a freezing backwoods cabin following a breakup with someone presumably named Emma. The album's romantic backstory, coupled with its innovative minimalism, made it incredibly popular throughout indie circles, eventually garnering low spots on many "best of the 2000s" lists.

    If "Emma" was the bitter cold of a blizzard, follow-up EP "Blood Bank" captured the warmth of a cabin fire. In many ways "Blood Bank" was an artistic advancement. Using quicker, shorter steps, it covered much of the same ground - without excess baggage. Then Vernon spent three weeks with Kanye West working on 10 songs that would go toward West's magnum opus, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." Bon Iver's "Woods" would even be the main sample for that album's epic closer, "Lost in the World."

    Each song on "Bon Iver" crafts an ambient atmosphere both individualistic and homogeneous to the album's greater arc. Footprints of "Blood Bank" and "Emma" can be found here on "Michicant" and "Hinnom, TX." But "Bon Iver" comes with a noticeable influence from the time Vernon spent collaborating with Kanye.

    The minimal sparseness that endeared critics to "Emma" is now replaced with synths, drum rolls, guitars and horns. Songs like "Perth" and "Towers" are beautifully convoluted in their arrangement. Yet as the instrumentation is piled on, it never becomes overwhelming. There is a Spector-esque wall of sound on "Bon Iver," but it is held in check by tasteful moderation.

    Lead single "Calgary" is the album's pre-eminent exposition of electric guitars and drums. Another example of Vernon's vocal talent, it's the most fitting homage to the western Canadian province since Gordon Lightfoot's "Alberta Bound."

    And then there's "Beth/Rest," the album's most enjoyable anomaly. A sprawling masterpiece overwhelmingly influenced by "The Way It Is"-era Bruce Hornsby, "Beth/Rest" is the album's crescendo. The last hurrah of the journey started on "Perth" and finished 40 all-too-quick minutes later.

    "Beth/Rest" goes beyond the album to symbolize Vernon himself. For many of his fans, channeling Bruce Hornsby seems an ironic gesture - a bow to the subset of indie culture that bastardizes nostalgia they never experienced with a sarcasm that degrades its intrinsic value. But there is nothing ironic about Bon Iver or Justin Vernon. From "Mandolin Rain"-inspired songs to performing Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" on prime time television, Vernon has proven himself the antithesis of an ironist. He might be the darling of indie culture, but he's not wearing his nostalgia because it's funny.

    In an era dictated by the amount of glitter and mascara on a performer's face, or their ability to push envelopes toward commercial dividends, "Bon Iver" is not an album that 2011 deserves. But it's certainly one that our culture of reboots and copycats needs. It's not just a great album. It's an album that defines the idea of music's potential, and highlights that potential's limitlessness. It shows us what a generation weened on the culture of yore can still achieve on its own accord.

    "Bon Iver" splits the difference between restraint and excess, and in the process finds a healthy ambition often lacking in so many sophomore albums. It takes what was and uses it to move toward what could be. It is the musical version of what James Earl Jones meant in "Field of Dreams" when he said baseball "reminds of us of all that once was good and could be again." In the land of Madonna copycats and misplaced sax solos, there is finally an album giving us hope that the heart of musical originality beats on.
    Expand
  18. Jun 21, 2011
    5
    My bottom line: I can't back Vernon's Kenny G moment. And Minnesota - WI is the only really tasty track on the disc.

    Two things that are similar between this and Emma (which is my album of 2008) - There are no crazy acrobatic melodies, no avant-garde chords, it's all kept pretty nice and simple. The difference between them is that Emma sort of floats above your head like a sepia-tone
    dream, while Bon Iver sinks into an icy lake of crystalline-timbre instrumentation. For me, Bon Iver's tasty, tangible creativity couldn't keep up with his inevitable sonic shift.

    Three things:

    Most of those critics have no idea what they're talking about, chasing some x-factor around the grooves in order to back the guy that made us cry with Emma.

    I love Minnesota - WI. It's the most invitingly textured track. And it avoids the miserably executed pastel horns. If one thing could turn the crank a little harder, it would be a bit of extra bass when the verse comes back in with the crunchy synth.

    Beth/Rest - In a popular music season where 70s/80s throwback grooves seem to be finding all of my favourite artists (mostly to great effect), this one stands alone as the most audacious and the most embarrassingly terrible. Don't try to pin naivete on me - the e. piano is only the cherry on top. A tip, Justin - when your fingers touch a piano, they invoke the most cliched of cliches. The sus releases, in particular, are enough to make me cringe. Horns in the wrong places, pedal steel crying for the wrong reasons...

    So, you took a big risk and it didn't work out for me. Better than being a banal fool. I will wait three more years if I have to to get your next record.
    Expand
  19. Jun 21, 2011
    5
    This sounds like an amalgamation of yacht rock, folk, and James Blake but with none of the positives of any of 'em. There's no experimentation. There's no hooks. It's good enough to not want to turn off once it's on, but it's not good enough to actively want to listen to. It's easy listening that goes nowhere
  20. Jun 21, 2011
    10
    This is a gorgeous album. It's complex and beautiful. I don't think it's the easiest album to get in to, but certainly worth listening to at least 100 times before being too down on it.
  21. Jun 21, 2011
    10
    I guess it's not for everyone. I love it, and I think the layered synths mark a suprisingly natural progression for the band--still intimate, but not cloistered.
  22. Jun 21, 2011
    4
    Some of the instrumentation is cool and the singing has some decent hooks. But after a couple songs, his white boys soul thing starts to grate, and god damn if Beth/Rest isn't the worst, cheesiest song of the year.
  23. Jun 23, 2011
    3
    Probably one of the most boring musicians I have ever had the opportunity to endure. The songs are painfully beige, lacking of any emotion or creativity and totally forgettable.
  24. Jun 26, 2011
    8
    It's an album that requires a time and a place. It isn't universal enough to be replayed at any given moment, but when it's right, it's the perfect choice. The self-titled album is more than likely what Justin Vernon wanted to do originally with his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. He considered those songs demos until they exploded on the internet and on various television shows. There are some strong songs on this album, even if sometimes they feel like they aren't going anywhere. And sometimes they don't. Expand
  25. Jun 29, 2011
    9
    A very relaxing, nicely composed album. This album has been an enjoyable listen every time. Not quite as good as "For Emma, Forever Ago," his first album, but that is a very high standard to live up to. He really delivered with this album.
  26. Aug 9, 2011
    9
    Bon Iver return for their second album and oh what a wonderful album it is. It doesn't just sound like a collection of songs thrown together but a cohesive piece of art from start to finish. Kudos to Bon Iver
  27. Jul 3, 2011
    4
    I have decided after all these years of following metacritic to join the user review group. I must listen to a new cd every week. My drug is music .The reason to join this group of reviewers is because of Bon Iver. I tried many times to listen and understand this cd but no luck. Its just simply over rated and maybe its the voice but I just don't understand him. The music is very good but I will give them a chance to listen to this group live , how could everyone be wrong maybe live they sound better.....Puzzled Expand
  28. Dec 24, 2011
    10
    The greatest band you're not listening to. Every song has a meaning - and all of the lyrics are poetic and daring. You will never hear them on the radio as their songs require to much attention and thought to really grasp the universal greatness that they posses.
  29. Jul 5, 2011
    5
    I really don't think I've ever had so many mixed feelings about an album before. One one hand, all the songs sound kinda the same. But on the other hand, all the songs are pretty good. Now I'm the kinda guy who can't stand artists whose songs all sound the same. But they're all pretty alright songs. I
    'm just glad this is my biggest stress factor right now...
  30. Jul 14, 2011
    5
    In a word- it's boring. It has its moments, like "Skinny Love," a track that actually features some loud/soft dynamics, but the rest is just too monotone. The man makes it clear that he's been hurt and for a little while, makes you care. Unfortunately, while listening to this album, I kept waiting for so many of the tracks to actually go somewhere, and they hardly ever did. If you are a fan of the "one man playing an acoustic guitar softly" genre (think Iron & Wine's earlier albums), you may well love this as many others like you have. Otherwise, you will find this to be overhyped and disappointing. Expand
  31. np6
    Jul 16, 2011
    10
    For me, this was the best album of 2011 so far. Better every time repeated listen. I know some have complained about it, but the added instrumentation works for me. I think it's actually a more rewarding and complex effort then "For Emma ...". It's as if "For Emma ..." was the effort that got him through the door but with "Bon Iver" he is going full blast towards a place he knows he belongs. Can't wait to hear these 10 songs performed live on stage. Expand
  32. Jul 20, 2011
    10
    People love giving one word to an album to describe it, one word to encapsulate its atmosphere, its feel, whatever have you. This is one album for which one word simply doesn't cut it. Bon Iver has lost none of his alone-in-the-woods thoughtfulness, yet meanwhile brings in a full band this time to produce something deeply layered, wonderfully produced and ultimately sublime album for those willing to sit down and truly listen to it.


    This is album is certainly not for the faint of heart listeners. One half-hearted listen and you could easily pass this off as highly synthesized easy listening. Yet as you listen to that first song, "Perth", you'll undoubtedly notice how it exploded, rupturing into a cacophonous string of distorted bass and guitar and bellowing double bass drums. Don't lose this moment; this is the moment that will tell you that this album is more than just your average indie rock production.


    The fact is that this album is a wonderfully intricate 10 song masterpiece. Justin Vernon heartbreaking falsetto negates any disappointment one may have over the unintelligible lyrics (literally, you can't understand more than 10 words he says without hurting yourself). The band he's managed to assemble is nothing short of magnificent, adding often times unpredictable and almost always inspiring support to Vernon's creation. You will often find a banjo strumming away in the background, a soft but ear-melting saxophone droning away or a trumpet blaring gently alongside the band. The production of the album adds yet more depth to the album. For something that feels so organic, a closer look at what you actually hear is surprisingly synthetic, marked by a slew of filters, distortions and effects. Yet it is never overwhelming; rather it serves to offer a remarkable balance, a very fine tightrope on which the organic sounds of a jam band sink wonderfully into a distinctly produced but tasteful digitization. "Bon Iver" never fails in its creativity. Almost undoubtedly a huge step forward musically for Justin Vernon from the Bon Iver debut "For Emma, Forever Ago," "Bon Iver" never fails to entrance you, but demands your effort to truly hear it. Its constantly shifting sonic landscape will rap your attention if you let yourself alone in the room with it and give yourself up to this truly fascinating and enthralling addition to the slew of wonderful albums of the year.
    Expand
  33. Jul 26, 2011
    9
    Absolutely stunning album. While listening to this second full length album from Bon Iver, there is a sense of space and atmosphere that is very difficult to explain. This sense can only be felt from listening to the entire album; start to finish. Overall, it is an unreal album that needs to be listened! 9/10
  34. Aug 1, 2011
    10
    Great!!!!
    I think it is fantastic,it is one of my favorite albums of the year so far
    It has lost of interesting drumming and all the tunes are lovely.
    It is im my opinion one of his best albums.
  35. Jul 31, 2011
    8
    I thought this album was a more upbeat (at times) and more all-around enjoyable than "Emma". Although I am partial to the acoustic sound compared to synth and electronic sound of most of the album, I found myself wanting to listen to this more for its tempo and its tracks ability to grow on me.
  36. Aug 21, 2011
    7
    Despite some dull moments (Vernon's voice and production might be entirely magic but a bit tedious as well sometimes, bringing a winter feeling putting me half asleep, must confess), "Bon Iver, Bon Iver" is a consistent album, with absolutely breathtaking moments (Holocene, Minnesota, Perth), while some others easily come up a bit short concerning they're similiar to Vernon's other records/projects tracks. Expand
  37. Aug 20, 2011
    10
    Knowing Justin for years now, I can't believe how evolved he has become in his musical production. This self titled disc might be one of the best purchases you will ever make.
  38. Sep 2, 2011
    9
    Gods gift to the indie Iron and Wine crowd. This is a complete piece of art that has balance and texture throughout the entire CD. Vernon has the most exquisite voice currently obtainable in music and everyone including Kanye and James Blake has worked with him. I can't give much higher praise for any Cd released this year.
  39. Sep 9, 2011
    10
    The album features opaque story telling, impeccably memorable musical arrangements that evoke the same emotional punch as For Emma, but on a much larger and grander scale.
  40. Jan 12, 2012
    5
    I don't get the fuss-over about this album. Seriously, it might have folk-based songs and good lyrics, but the last time I checked this mix wasn't supposed to become so boring. It has not a compelling theme like their debut, and Vernom's turned the weakness in a fake bravery. I hope they improve the results they had in this album.
  41. Oct 11, 2011
    10
    I get why some people say they don't "get" this album - it's generally slow and quiet, and very nuanced. It's a headphones listen. If you see the band live, you'll learn that it's miles more nuanced than you even imagined - there's 9 people on stage, switching instruments, melding their sounds so well that the music seems more simple than it really is. In my opinion, this album is just about perfect. Just quiet enough to be background music while I work or study, bombastic enough to hold my attention on a straight-thru listen, and a religious experience when seen in concert. Pick it up. The percentage of people that love it vs. those that don't is ridiculously off-center in favor of loving it. You just have to actually listen to it. Expand
  42. Nov 9, 2011
    8
    Although this record doesn't have the same magic the For Emma.. one thing that has to be acknowledged is Bon Iver's refusal to dish out the same again. The production feels a bit soulless and it just lacks the spirit that was present in its predecessor. Overall it's still a very good record but the first half of it is much stronger than the second. It really fades off into limbo a bit towards the end. It will be very interesting to see where this band goes next. Expand
  43. Nov 12, 2011
    10
    This album is without doubt one of the best I have ever listened to. The way you can discover something new upon each listen is mesmerising and goes to show the sheer amount of effort and pure musical talent that went into the album. There is not a faultless track, with each offering a range of unique sounds alongside deeper meaning upon close listening. Listening to this transports you to a place of brilliant scenery which has never been achieved before personally. For those who dislike this or simply don't get it, check out professional reviews, as they speak volumes and show just how amazing this peice of music really is. Expand
  44. Dec 13, 2011
    9
    What a strange little album. It's quite different from anything I've heard before or religiously listen to, but all the good reviews and hearing the infectious beginning of "Perth" accompanied with its deluxe music video got me to purchase this album. The first time I listened to it, I remember feeling like I was floating, entranced in a blissful state. It sounds so beautiful and though Justin Vernon's falsetto tone cracks at times, it belongs with the music well. I love how he can go from such a high pitch to one so low and atmospheric that it vibrates your brain like on "Minnesota, WI". Every song is more gorgeous than the last, highlights including "Perth", "Holocene", "Towers", "Michicant", and "Calgary". The only overall problem I have with this album is that most of the time I can't understand a lick of what Justin is saying. This might be just me, but he mumbles a lot through these songs. I have printed out the lyrics though, and they'll aid me in my next Bon Iver listening session. I am glad I purchased this gem, because there are certainly none like it and "Holocene" is just too beautiful to pass up. I haven't really gotten into "Beth/Rest" yet, but maybe actually knowing what the lyrics are will aid me. Expand
  45. Dec 7, 2011
    10
    Even better than the last album. Less hidden in the woods, more in the open, with bits and piece from a wide range of influences and sounds. This is not an album that can be labeled as one thing. It is plural, and it is good !
  46. Dec 18, 2011
    10
    I honestly didn't think For Emma could be beat, but this self-titled gem showed just how much more Justin Vernon is capable of. As a sax player, I have some serious appreciation for his use of the Bass Saxophone (played by awesome Canadian Jazz man, Colin Stetson), and Bon Iver's use of horns in general. This album somehow seamlessly weaves jazz and folk music without sounding either elitist or hokey. The only out of place song for me was Beth/Rest, reminding me a bit too much of 80's Christian artist, Michael W Smith... but it actually grew on me somehow. A lovely record that will find a home in my living room and on my headphones for a long time to come. Expand
  47. Jan 9, 2012
    3
    I absolutely loved For Emma, Forever Ago. It was one of the most beautiful albums I had heard in a while, and it created such a soundscape with a minimal amount of instruments and very little multi-tracking. So what went wrong? The problem with this album is it's over reaching attempts to sound almost post-rock-y with it's ridiculous amount of added instrumentation that simply doesn't belong. The songs aren't intimate anymore, they are just a sea of "lets see what we can fit in to this song", which is ultimately much less enjoyable and incredibly forgettable. Expand
  48. Feb 25, 2012
    10
    Best album I've ever heard in my life..When I listened to this album, the first time was an orgasm, the second time i cried, then i cry everytime I listen to this album. Simply magic.
  49. Aug 14, 2012
    10
    Whereas "For Emma, Forever Ago" was an intensely close experience, the songs piercingly personal, the atmosphere reverberating off the walls of the cabin that the majority of the songs were recorded in, "Bon Iver" is breathtakingly grand and majestic. The soft guitars in opener "Perth" bring to my mind a painter trying to capture dawn subtly breaking, dragging his brush tinted purple with watercolor across his canvas, adding specks of orange as they briefly crescendo, then fade again before a veritable orchestra flares with the intensity of the sun.

    I'm sorry if that came across as pretentiously poetic, but that's the literal mental image I have for the song, and for that matter, the entire album. For someone who loves the outdoors, this album captures the raw beauty of nature for me, especially in the crushingly beautiful "Holocene", where Vernon delivers the line "And I could see for miles, miles, miles" with such yearning in his voice that even though I have no idea what he's referring to, I feel an ache in my heart too.

    Basically, if there was one sentence that I would use to describe this album, it would be that I was stunned the first time I slid the CD into my car on the drive home from purchasing it, and I'm still stunned today. I love this album.
    Expand
  50. Jul 31, 2012
    8
    Bon Iver's second, self-titled release brings out warm, wintry, sipping-hot-cocoa-in-a-log-cabin feelings, but manages to balance them with fits of torrential emotion that is what truly defines the release. There is evidence of a matured artist here and their craft really speaks for itself.
  51. Sep 9, 2012
    9
    An absolute classic which only just falls short of being amongst the same pedigree of his earlier work.
  52. Feb 20, 2013
    10
    Yes, Bon Iver did it again. An improvement from their previous album. With soothing and ambient settings in the songs, this is their best. Original and trying something new, I did not expect it to be that good. But now, my mind is set. Perth was a great song, starting with a arm-style movement, followed by soothing sounds in Minnesota, WI. Holocene is calm and gentle, followed by Towers and Michicant respectively, all calm and nice. Then there was the best moment, Hinnom, TX. 'And in Hinnom'. The best song ever. The greatest experimentation with superb vocals. Then the seabreeze Wash., calm tensions. Then Calgary, a nice emotional song. Follow by Lisbon, OH and Beth/Rest, the final ending worth listening. The best album of that year. And Hinnom, TX, the best song ever! Expand
  53. Jan 30, 2013
    5
    As a separate album from For Emma, this really is a decent album. It has a nice, pretty sound, and has some cool instrumentation. But in comparison to For Emma, it is a slap in the face for me. Rather than than just Vernon armed with only his guitar, he brings in a dozen other people to completely change the record. It feels sloppy, overdone, and an act of shark jumping. This record is just too forced, it lacks the heart that For Emma had. Expand
  54. Apr 3, 2014
    8
    It's still good, though. I really really love Bon Iver's music. However, this album just gives this impression that Justin Vernon was better off by himself.
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
  1. 90
    Bon Iver sounds distinctively matured and alive on Bon Iver: an album that even still, in the late winter, months after its release sounds magical.
  2. Sep 9, 2011
    90
    In an industry flooded with trumpeted artists not worth their weight in salt, Bon Iver's abstract ruminations more than warrant the hype.
  3. Aug 3, 2011
    90
    Akin to For Emma, Bon Iver breaks the listener's heart. And to experience an album (an oft-dreaded sophomore album, no less) that evokes such deep emotion is a welcomed pain.