Whereas his previous record For Emma, Forever Ago softly played like a gentle snow in a cold winter, Bon Iver's self-titled sophomore LP blossoms from the spring. It's a new direction for Justin Vernon although it is still breathtakingly beautiful and reminiscent of For Emma, it certainly stands on its own. The problem Bon Iver had to face was that their first LP is considered by many to be one of the best records of the previous decade. It is a record that people (myself included) have fond memories associated with. If you were to compare these two records, which you shouldn't, then of course For Emma stands above and beyond Bon Iver. This record simply put is beautiful, and will be on the top of many people's year-end lists. However, there are some dull moments in this record and some songs towards the latter half of the album don't really stand out. The last song "Beth/Rest" I haven't quite decided if I like or not. The lyrics of the track are extremely heartfelt, but the song's aesthetic borders the line of being pretty and schmaltzy, with it's Phil Collins-esque cheese guitar solos gently in the background. Above all things Bon Iver is a very pleasant listening experience and the band once again becomes the soundtrack to nature hikes everywhere.