On Bon Iver's Bon Iver, the project opens the floodgates and welcomes in a sea of new instrumentation. Everything from clarinet to string arrangements are laced into these songs to widen the spectrum of sounds that were once so sparse four years ago on For Emma, Forever Ago. But just because we've got a ton of new sounds doesn't mean they've been arranged or mixed all that well.
It might be impressive to see some of these songs played life--well, it might be very impressive, actually. But the thing is the recording quality of this LP squishes so many of the climaxes here until they're a strip of roadkill on the summer asphalt. When that's not the issues, saxophones or guitars may wander around the mix aimlessly, looking for some kind of pocket to fit in.
It's a little like watching a grade school soccer game. No one player paying attention to his or her position or duty on the field. Instead, everybody is just running for the ball at once.
Don't get me wrong, because I do think a lot of the songs on here are pretty strong. I'd probably love all of these tracks if they were recorded with as much modesty and focus as "Wash." or "Towers."
It's the sound of this album that ends up killing me most of the time, not the songs.