Bon Iver Blood Bank

Bon Iver Blood Bank
Still basking in the glow of being on many, many year-end "best of" lists for his debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon, or Bon Iver, has given his fans a lovely EP that doesn't so much push things forward as remind us of his considerable talent. "Beach Baby" has the warm name but the song is as brittle and cold as you'd expect due to its plaintive guitar, Vernon's expressive falsetto and a perfectly timed pedal steel. It's as desolate as they come. The one misstep would be "Woods," which has all the hallmarks of a great Bon Iver song except for an inexplicable over-reliance on AutoTune. While this computerized tweaking (made recently famous by T-Pain and Kanye West) was done sparingly on his debut, a whole song of it sounds pointless. Vernon sings quite well and the joy of his misery comes through his expressive voice. Flattening the ups and downs of his emotions forces the listener out of his artistic world. If you loved For Emma, this is a great victory lap but it's too little and too slight to be essential. (Jagjaguwar)