Following Justin Vernon’s successful solo project Bon Iver, Volcano Choir’s second album has gotten more publicity than their 2009 debut, Unmap. In this project, Justin reunites with friends Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Matthew Skemp, Daniel Spack, and Thomas Wincek, who have been an inspiration for his own music-making.
Much like the Bon Iver project, the sound of this album has an ambient quality. The songs oscillate between contemplative soundscapes—think melodic wind chimes and classical guitar—and the bombast of guitar- and piano-driven melodies, beats, and bass. The vocals are distant and at times distorted; their sound takes precedence over meaning. The listener gets the sense that this is an album made in the stillness of a Wisconsin winter, which it was.
The lyrical theme is a one-sided conversation about a relationship gone wrong. At times using harsh language, the protagonists eventually recognize hope and the need to move past the pain of heartbreak. It is a great example of making beauty out of an ugly situation. (Jagjaguwar