Bon Iver is a relatively known band and their song “Skinny Love” became popular among many. The band was headed by Justin Vernon, who could be attributed to both the vocals and the creations of the songs. Justin Vernon wasn’t just a part of this band though- he branched off to participate in solo projects with artists such as Kanye West and also formed some other groups, such as Volcano Choir.
Not many people have heard of Volcano Choir, but their songs are the kind that will hook you with a compelling beat and melody, but then catch you completely off guard some time later once you realize what the lyrics are actually saying. The whole album Repave has a complete theme throughout of beginning anew. It all begins with the first song “Tiderays” and wraps up at the end with “Almanac.” Motifs of shedding skin and crashing waves populate the songs, representing how you can be washed clean and made new.
Although many of the lyrics are completely up to interpretation and truthfully may make no sense on the surface, once they’re explained or pointed out to you they’re hard to ignore. The final song of the album, “Almanac” contains a hard-hitting metaphor of playing baseball when it says, “You can’t left with that/ Well you wreck and then you run.” These lyrics are saying that in baseball when you hit a ball too far left it becomes a foul ball, yet you drop everything and run as if it is a home run. When I realized this, I loved the image it created and the deep metaphorical meaning behind it.
Another lyric in this song that I love that’s less difficult to deconstruct is “I’ll be here/ Dancing on your footsteps,” which can have a few meanings depending on the reader’s interpretation. It can mean that once someone you love dies you can honor their path with love and appreciation, or it can represent the rest of the album’s theme. It can mean that you are happily moving ahead in your life and leaving the previous “footsteps” of your past behind.
The rest of the songs have lyrics representing similar ideas, whether they relate to love or loss or sadness, all circling back to the album’s holistic theme of leaving the past behind and beginning anew. This can even be seen with the albums cover, a simple picture of a crashing wave. Water and waves have been seen as washing things clean, but the appearance of the waves represents this as violent or abrupt.
The actual appearance of the sound is representative of these motifs. You have Vernon’s hearty and gritty voice combining with the aggressive drums and organ sounds that create these climatic sounds. If you listen you can picture the crashing of the sea as the drums reach crescendos, which once again ties together the overall theme of the album.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys music that isn’t so on the surface and is something that has more meaning the more you listen, I loved this album. Not only do the songs make sense individually, but they also make sense together. Some may think that you shouldn’t have to dig that much for a song to mean something but I think that that’s where the beauty lies. Everyone can find different ways to resonate with different music, but that can only occur if the music doesn’t straight out tell you what it’s trying to say. Repave is the perfect representation of this, as what sticks out to me may mean nothing to someone else who prefers different lines and lyrics. But overall, if you’re looking for a collection of music that will make you think twice about what you’re listening to, Repave is a good place to start.