M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #4

Made up words, veiled meanings, and obscure references: the Bon Iver discography is not an easy one to analyze. What’s left for us listeners to do but just take it all in? On “Perth,” Vernon puts forth his pithy lyrics towards gorgeous harmonies and a militial snare-drum, and creates an amazing opener to his sophomore album. Without even understanding all the lyrics (wtf does “fide” or “fane” mean, anyways?), we can all agree that Perth is successful in telling a universal, albeit vague story. “Still alive who you love,” repeats Vernon on the song’s chorus. His lofty vocals send this line floating over the crashing symbols and that lone electric guitar riff.  Perhaps the line reminds you of a loved one who’s passed away, or a relationship that’s faded. Whatever it is, the meaning of the chorus is just broad enough to bear significance to every listener. And the refrain only becomes more potent as the songs grows, thanks to those booming drum rolls and gorgeous old-school horns.

And if the song didn’t speak to you through your earbuds or on your record player, it translated incredibly live. We saw Bon Iver this past summer, where “Perth” was Vernon’s choice of opener. The performance clarified what we all thought upon hearing the track on the record: the era of For Emma, Forever Ago is over. “Perth” signifies a new beginning, looking forward towards light rather than looking back and reflecting on darkness. So with the help of two drum kits and his nine-piece band, Vernon’s deafening performance of “Perth” at Mountain Park demanded our full, undivided attention. And hence, the song rightfully demanded a spot in M&T top five tracks of the year.

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2011

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