The follow-up to the excellent and highly-acclaimed ‘For Emma, Forever Ago‘ shows that Justin Vernon (the man behind Bon Iver) could be a songwriter with some staying power. This album reveals that Vernon can consistently write good songs, yet isn’t afraid of a little experimentation. Apart from the closer, ‘Woods’, the ‘Blood Bank EP’ could have been outtakes from ‘FEFA’. The first three tracks mix desperation, loneliness, and hope by combining a downbeat folky sensibility with playful and haunting effects. This works especially well in the title track, where the guitars swell and disintegrate with Vernon’s cryptic vocals. ‘Beach Baby’ and ‘Babys’ follow in a similar vein, and ‘Babys’ makes interesting use of a piano. The decision to end the album with ‘Woods’, in which Vernon has a field day with a vocoder, seems like a mistake on first listen. The song lacks cohesion, and the general public (myself included) is burnt out on Auto-Tune. However, ‘Woods’ lets us know that Vernon won’t be content to make the same songs over again, and there’s hope that he’ll keep coming up with even better things in the future. Overall, this EP is worth a listen for the title track alone, but I’d recommend waiting for his next release before throwing down the cash – ‘Blood Bank’ is currently available on his MySpace.
-Fleet Admiral Zipper