User Score
9.1

Universal acclaim- based on 264 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 7 out of 264

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  1. Jun 16, 2011
    10
    A truly cathartic masterpiece of a debut album from Justin Vernon. What started as a retreat ended in creation, that creation came in the form of "For Emma, Forever Ago". Like many, the first song that peaked my interest was "Skinny Love" (please don't pretend like you're "over" this track because it's popular you elitist douche) every song on the album builds and destroys, pushes andA truly cathartic masterpiece of a debut album from Justin Vernon. What started as a retreat ended in creation, that creation came in the form of "For Emma, Forever Ago". Like many, the first song that peaked my interest was "Skinny Love" (please don't pretend like you're "over" this track because it's popular you elitist douche) every song on the album builds and destroys, pushes and pulls, burns and freezes the emotions of a bitter heartbreak and quiet defeat of denial.I've never met a person who has taken the time to sit down and listen to this album and not love...if these people exist...I would rather never acknowledge their existence for as long as I live. Expand
  2. 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 aIn 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
  3. Nov 17, 2010
    10
    Every word penetrates our hearts like a recognition of our most sincere feelings. This is a perfect album, where every song feels like it's meant to exist. It's impossible to get tired off every single one of this musics...
  4. Jun 20, 2011
    10
    It is heartbreakingly lovely, personal, and visceral. It is perfect for lying in bed and dozing, reading, or having on outside in the sun for a day. This album couldn't be better.
  5. Aug 22, 2011
    10
    Justin Vernon has one of the most beautiful falsetto I've ever heard. This album is a slice of pure musical genius. Each track is beautifully written and gets better with each listen. I never found this to be an entertaining album but after listening to it a few times, it's really grown on me. Lump Sum is easily the best track on this album but every other track is amazing also. All InJustin Vernon has one of the most beautiful falsetto I've ever heard. This album is a slice of pure musical genius. Each track is beautifully written and gets better with each listen. I never found this to be an entertaining album but after listening to it a few times, it's really grown on me. Lump Sum is easily the best track on this album but every other track is amazing also. All In All, "For Emma, Forever Ago" is an extremely well written album and I highly recommend this to anyone. A Expand
  6. Mar 28, 2012
    8
    This is a pretty nice album with a subtle and interesting feel to it. It's the type of music you would listen to if you were camping with a bunch of friends and you got stuck in a rainstorm in the middle of the afternoon. Give it a chance, it's a fine listen.
  7. Jun 2, 2011
    10
    5000 characters isn't enough so I'll sum it up with this: perfect. I can honestly listen to this album anytime/season/place etc...easily in my Top 10 albums of all time (talking about ones made in my lifetime).
  8. Nov 9, 2011
    9
    One of the records of the decade. This has beautiful songs, unique arrangements and a genuine rawness that only gets captured on record properly once every few years. Bon Iver does an awful lot with very little on this. I would highly recommend.
  9. Dec 3, 2011
    8
    Refreshing, soulful album. New sound for alternative, and we can only hope we keeps this up. Crossroads will happen if he decides to continue to experiment or move to a more mainstream sound
  10. Sep 9, 2012
    10
    Beautiful, Eerie and intimate. Bon Iver at its finest.
  11. Nov 9, 2012
    9
    Sad, sorrowful, and, at times, quite powerful. Bon Iver's debut will quietly blow you away.
  12. Jan 30, 2013
    10
    A beautiful, yet sparse debut. Vernon flays his very heart out for the listener. It is full of pure, raw emotion. The guitars are perfectly placed, juxtaposed by Vernon's introspective, albeit mysterious lyrics.
  13. Mar 20, 2014
    9
    Decided to get back into Bon Iver. This is a beautiful album. Justin's voice is so haunting and his falsetto is to die for. The simplicity of it enhances it fully, their second album falls from being over produced. Justin escaped into the Woods for a few months to work on this album and you can hear that perfectly here. The music has this tone and attitude where the wilderness is all youDecided to get back into Bon Iver. This is a beautiful album. Justin's voice is so haunting and his falsetto is to die for. The simplicity of it enhances it fully, their second album falls from being over produced. Justin escaped into the Woods for a few months to work on this album and you can hear that perfectly here. The music has this tone and attitude where the wilderness is all you can picture. It sounds as a longing to get free and want to be away.

    His vocals on ever song is beautiful, especially the harmonies with himself on The Wolves Act 1 & 2. Musically it's easy and accessible to listen to. The only place this album has some faults is with lyrics. On songs like Lump Sum, Blindsided, and Creature Fear, they are questionable. But at other times they rip through like beautiful poetry, and talent is undeniable.

    The Wolves Act 1 & 2, Flume, Skinny Love, and re: Stacks, are the highlight tracks easily. They have the most emotion and power to them and that's where Bon Iver really shines. Sure if you're in a blissful carefree mood, Bon Iver is not the band to go to, but if you need to cry, need to be picked up some, need something nice, this is the perfect place to go.

    There isn't too much to comment, because it's an incredible album plain and simple. A must listen to from the last decade.

    A-
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  14. May 28, 2013
    10
    This album is the example set when one thinks about good music. It's amazing what such a talented musician when they go back to their roots. Every song as beautiful as the other and every word a painful memory to a proud belief, this album deserves the best ratings from every critic.
  15. Jun 25, 2013
    10
    Incredible album. My favorite of all time,really. One of the complaints I've read on message boards and the like is that the lyrics are "nonsensical". This just means you aren't really listening. This album tells a very detailed, very intricate story. Very slight details are incredible here. For those who don't get it:

    Flume Icarus’ story is a metaphor for getting too close to someone
    Incredible album. My favorite of all time,really. One of the complaints I've read on message boards and the like is that the lyrics are "nonsensical". This just means you aren't really listening. This album tells a very detailed, very intricate story. Very slight details are incredible here. For those who don't get it:

    Flume Icarus’ story is a metaphor for getting too close to someone and then losing them
    Lump Getting over that un-named girl, and falling for “Emma”
    Skinny Love Short mutual love as they slowly grew apart
    The Wolves Complete loss of love from “Emma”, which slowly wears away at him as she won’t tell him she’s moved on, but Justin knows now
    Blindsided He saw a breakup coming, but something made it especially tough, past just a breakup. Perhaps another guy, etc.
    Creature Fear The fear of seeing “Emma” around and saying something stupid/embarrassing
    Team Time Passes
    For Emma He still loves Emma and attempts once more to get her back
    RE: Stacks Re-rejection hits hard, maybe even via e-mail, hence the “RE:”. She has no love for him at all, and not even enough respect for him to have that conversation in person
    Wisconsin About moving on and trying to find yourself again

    As Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) said in an interview, "Everyone has an Emma". This album will hit home if you've ever been rejected, broken up with, or in love. Truly incredible.Too bad 10 is the highest rating I can give it.
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  16. Oct 25, 2013
    10
    The soulful lo-fi tones of Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, exude the loneliness and heartbreak that characterized the writing and recording of the songs by Justin Verner in a remote cabin in the wintry woods of Wisconsin. Beautifully balanced, the album moves from one haunting melody to the next, each track building and developing it into a story of lost love and longing. ItThe soulful lo-fi tones of Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, exude the loneliness and heartbreak that characterized the writing and recording of the songs by Justin Verner in a remote cabin in the wintry woods of Wisconsin. Beautifully balanced, the album moves from one haunting melody to the next, each track building and developing it into a story of lost love and longing. It starts with the slow tones of Flume and progresses to the more upbeat horns in For Emma before dialing back down to end with the poetic lyrics and simple guitar riffs of Re: Stacks.

    For Emma, Forever Ago plucks at old memories of long-lost loves, and is a rare treat in a fast-paced world, inviting you to slow down, have a cup of tea, and watch the snow fall softly down outside a cabin in the woods.
    Expand
  17. Mar 24, 2014
    10
    Words cannot explain how much I love this album. There's a comforting feeling in this album-- it's heartbreaking, but at the same time, it has a light of optimism that shines. This album is relaxing and Justin Vernon's singing is distinctive.
  18. Oct 28, 2014
    10
    Listening to this album is an unique experience that I recommend to everyone who likes really good music - not just as a piece of fun, but totally art. My favorite band, by far.
  19. Nov 18, 2014
    9
    Beautifully sung, written, arranged and just beautiful in general.
    For Emma, Forever Ago connects with the listener in a way which Justin Vernon does very easily. The lyrics effortlessly provoke all kinds of feelings. Something which modern music almost never does nowadays. Skinny Love and Creature Fear are especially brilliant.
  20. Mar 6, 2015
    9
    This album is simple, sweet, and unpretentious, yet that's exactly why it's so special. The music is melancholy and introspective and the vocals are timid and emotional, but at the same time there's something very uplifting about this album. It's really great music to get lost in, especially if you're laying in bed, studying, or driving down the highway late at night. This is definitely anThis album is simple, sweet, and unpretentious, yet that's exactly why it's so special. The music is melancholy and introspective and the vocals are timid and emotional, but at the same time there's something very uplifting about this album. It's really great music to get lost in, especially if you're laying in bed, studying, or driving down the highway late at night. This is definitely an album I'll be listening to over and over again. Expand
Metascore
88

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. A sure-footed assertion of the artist's individual talents and landing it a spot among the best folk records of 2007 has to offer.
  2. As good as it is, it’s clear that Vernon still has room to grow. A few songs could have used a little extra instrumental kick, and while his songs are great, you can tell he has more to offer. Keep an eye on this one.
  3. Vernon gives a soulful performance full of intuitive swells and fades, his phrasing and pronunciation making his voice as much a purely sonic instrument as his guitar.