Where does Blood Bank fit with the frozen fog of For Emma, Forever Ago,
Bon Iver's much-acclaimed debut from last winter? It isn't an
afterthought, or an echo, or B-sides, though some of the songs were
recorded around the same time as For Emma in a little cabin in
Wisconsin during the good winter (French translation: Bon Hiver) after
which the band is named. It has similarities to
the experimental, beautiful mess that Justin Vernon captured in his
wooded solitude, but Blood Bank also feels like a series of postcards -
letting us know that the singer is traveling on, his heartbreak perhaps
The title track is the most accessible, most narrative of the tracks. "Beach Baby" is the most quintessentially Bon Iver track with Vernon's falsetto harmonies backed by a campfire acoustic and slide guitar. As the four-song EP progresses, it becomes increasingly atonal and dissonant: the layers become more abstract, while the notions Vernon presents gain focus. "Babys" has Vernon banging out a driving piano piece-a thaw, a spring rain-unsophisticated playing, but passionate and interesting. The closing track, "Woods," uses a vocoder (think Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek") to layer the simple lines, "I'm up in the woods, I'm down on my mind, I'm building a still to slow down the time."
If you're heartbroken this good winter, visiting Blood Bank will surely help you heal.