ALBUM REVIEW: Volcano Choir, Repave
Taking the honor of Justin Vernon’s preferred project to Bon Iver, Volcano Choir’s Repave shows off more of the indie icon’s influence while channeling the experimental electronics of the group’s first effort, Unmap, in stunningly beautiful fashion. While Unmap thrived on amorphous abstraction, diving into dense, almost impenetrable sonic landscapes to move the listener, Volcano Choirchose instead to build Repave into a symbol. Because this album is more than the swirling idea legion of its predecessor, it’s hard won idealism forged into song. Not the desperate idealism of a man alone at a cabin in the woods, nor the longing idealism of songs written to suit the places that meant most to him, but the integral idealism of a man who learned the lessons taught by years of living through society, relationships, and the world at large.
Vernon is unequivocally at his best during Repave. His lyrics are sharp, concrete, and transcendent in turn as lines like “We were gonna hit every mark, in stark/but that sutra didn’t suit ya on that day in the park/I’m talkin’ about it/we’re talkin’ real love” flow from standout track, “Alaskans” and other notables “Acetate” and “Dancepack”. His display of enlightenment is accompanied perfectly by the rest of Volcano Choir. Brief stabs of synth punctuate Vernon’s most pointed turns of phrase, gloriously dense arrangements that combine careful loops with bursts of booming percussion leave just enough room for his unique voice range, and the smallest hint of production makes its way into the vocals to show how even a great man can still be imperfect.
Repave really is simply beautiful. It’s a piece of work that shows the perfect measure of restraint to guard its message, all the while giving the listener glimpses of the truth behind the curtain of its symbolism. Because if Volcano Choir showed you too much, you wouldn’t believe them. There is a reason why Justin Vernon chose to pursue this project over his successful career with Bon Iver, and that reason is Repave - a pure, enlightened display of idealism that will move you.
Repave is set for release on September 3rd by jagjaguwar.
Volcano Choir perform live at 9:30 Club on September 12th.
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