Breaking More Waves album of the year is For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver. A remarkable debut, which divinely combines Justin Vernon’s haunting falsetto voice over simple but beautiful acoustic arrangements. Over the last six months this album, full of songs of solitude, has developed into the recording of the year. It is no surprise to find it perched at the top of a number of Album of the Year lists, including this one.
For the uninitiated, the well told tale of the creation of this album involves singer songwriter Justin Vernon imposing self inflicted exile on himself following a split with both his previous band and girlfriend. Living in an isolated cabin in the middle of a Wisconsin forest, he crafted and recorded these mellow melancholy songs assuming the name Bon Iver. From the very first notes, the listener can feel the sense of loneliness, the atmosphere of the surroundings permeating through the music, but also a thought that sometimes the most wonderful things come out of sad times.
This is a record that fully achieves the status of ultimate slow burner, an album that not only develops in your heart through the months, but also for Breaking More Waves has developed through experience. Probably never before has an artist played on the main stage of an outdoor music festival in the middle of the afternoon and completely silenced the audience in awe. As Justin said that day, it really was something special. From that moment, at this years End Of The Road Festival, For Emma, Forever Ago took on a whole new meaning for Breaking The Waves. It showed the power of music, not through heavy rock riffs or pumping beats but through the art of the subtlety of skilful song writing.
For Emma, Forever Ago is a musically perfect album, from the dull desolate thumping beat on Flume to Lump Sum where spacey choir vocals quickly dissolve into a pulsing cinematic acoustic sound. You can imagine this music being played over the opening credits of a film, the camera speeding above a vast ocean.
Lyrically it is obscurely personal and painful. Take Skinny Love where Justin sings “I tell my love to wreck it all, cut out all the ropes and let me fall.” On Re:Stacks “There’s a black crow sitting across from me; his wirey legs are crossed, and he’s dangling my keys, he even fakes a toss. Whatever could it be that has brought me to this loss?” It’s bleak stuff. Although the album may be a joy to listen to, it certainly hasn’t been created out of it. However, Justin finds hope at the end of The Wolves (Acts I and II) where his vocals repeat “What might have been lost,” to a gradually building cacophony, before finishing with “Doesn’t bother me.”
Words do not do this album justice, so instead Breaking More Waves asks you to listen to the music. There are no expensive record company financed videos available, as the songs breathe fully by themselves. So instead here is a film that sums up the album perfectly, a collection of images put together by a fan, to the wonderful song Blindsided.
So that was Breaking More Waves Top Ten Albums of 2008. To end here is a video of two of our top ten, Bon Iver and Lykke Li playing the Lykke Li song Dance Dance Dance. Enjoy. It’s almost time to look forward to 2009 as we gaze into our crystal ball, as well as slotting in the odd gig review before Christmas.