One of the great pop music movements that hasn't been given enough credit is the wave of falsetto soul that crashed the charts in the early 1970s. The signature hits of this movement included the Stylistics' "You Are Everything," the Chi-Lites' "Have You Seen Her" and anything by Smokey Robinson.
Bon Iver's neo-soul is neo-falsetto soul, oddly wrapped in the white-bread, solemn, restrained and impressionistic sounds of indie rock. It's a starkly unusual melding of musical influences that has enchanted critics and landed this Eau Claire band kudos from Rolling Stone as well as a recent slot on David Letterman.
Bon Iver wisely finds no reason to depart from this formula on Blood Bank, a four-song EP that successfully follows the band's acclaimed debut, For Emma, Forever Ago.
"Woods" is the most falsetto soul of all these songs. It's an a cappella chant that's been auto-tuned not just to distort the high-pitched vocals, but to layer them in combinations that create weirdly beautiful harmony.
The title track is a slowly rising love song spanning the colors of bagged blood. It proves that when Justin Vernon isn't bound in falsetto mode, he sounds a lot like Sting.
This EP also proves that Bon Iver isn't a one-album wonder. Vernon is the most compelling Wisconsin songwriter around right now and, lucky for us, he's here to stay.