Published by Joe Stadele on Sept 3, 2013.
“Blurred Lines” may be the big hit of 2013, but for Justin Vernon it’s more than a catchy song, it’s a musical aesthetic. Case in point: Bon Iver’s “Woods” and Volcano Choirs’ “Still”; same song, same lyrics, slightly different arrangement, different bands with the common denominator (besides Kanye West) being Eau Claire’s prolific music hero, Mr. Justin Vernon.
Vernon is back to blurring lines with his fourth musical outlet, not Bon Iver (or Gayngs or The Shouting Matches), but Volcano Choir. Just as Volcano Choir’s 2009 album Unmap felt relative to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Volcano Choir’s new album Repave feels like an unorthodox and exceptionally well done follow-up to Bon Iver’s 2012 self-titled album; while allowing Vernon the opportunity to sidestep the pressure and acclaim which has grown around the brand of Bon Iver (perhaps a very smart move).
Repave is nearly flawless. Clocking in at just 39 minutes, the album is a calming, confident and concise piece of work filled with beautiful acoustic and electronic arrangements which move interchangeable with Vernon’s (now) trademark layered vocals. The album reaches emotional heights with “Tiderays”, “Byegone” and “Almanac”; swoons during “Comrade” and “Alaskans”; and is at its most fun during “Acetate” and “Keel”.
Repave is an accomplishment for Vernon and speaks not only to his musical strengths, but to the musicianship within Volcano Choir. Their building arrangements draw the listener in as they seamlessly shift throughout the album. Regardless of the similarities between Volcano Choir and Bon Iver, Justin Vernon is on a roll and Repave is a welcome new chapter.
Catch Volcano Choir on tour this fall, click here for tour dates.