Style: Falsetto-heavy, experimental indie-pop; compare to Volcano Choir, Gayngs, Bruce Hornsby
Top tracks: "Perth," "Calgary," "Holocene"
For Emma, Forever Ago—the debut from Justin Vernon's Bon Iver—grew from a self-released album recorded in a Wisconsin hunting cabin to an indie-folk behemoth. Vernon's rustic acoustic and gorgeous, layered falsetto eventually led him to a Kanye West collab and a Twilight soundtrack spot. For the much anticipated follow-up, Vernon did away with the woodsy vibe, opting instead for satin-smooth electric guitars, keys, strings and synth; these rich soundscapes are just as beautiful. Vernon's poetry is more impressionist than straightforward (with a couple stray F-bombs), so while there's nothing in-your-face spiritual about Bon Iver, there's a palpable vulnerability and reliance on love's redemptive power.1