Continuing on from their 2009 release of ‘Unmap’, Volcano Choir present their follow-up album of ‘Repave’. Departing somewhat from the experimental and at times, unpredictable sound of their debut release, Volcano Choir offer up an incredibly interesting album that exudes creativity and ideas from the band. Fronted by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, there are many appealing elements to Volcano Choir’s music which utilizes many of Vernon’s talents as a vocalist, and combines it with a full backing band. ‘Repave’ is a very intriguing album that shows a much different side to Volcano Choir than what ‘Unmap’ first offered, though whether this is for better or worse is up to the individual opinion of each listener.
On ‘Repave’ we see Volcano Choir entering a somewhat more post-rock phase than ‘Unmap’ offered. Vernon’s vocal take the forefront of the music itself, though it is accompanied by incredible instrumentals that blast forward with each song. There’s a tremendous energy present on the album that didn’t seem to be on ‘Unmap’ at all. It’s a very strong second album that is definitely a step forward from their debut release, that also shows everything Volcano Choir have to offer. Each track seems to build up slowly until it reaches an incredible crescendo that is somewhat reminiscent of Sigur Rós. It is easy to draw comparisons with Vernon’s solo-project Bon Iver, as musically there are many similarities, though it feels like Volcano Choir is a project of its own that is very separate from Bon Iver’s world.
Fans of Volcano Choir’s first album might find ‘Repave’ to be somewhat of polarizing album that is harder to enjoy. It is arguable that it is more accessible than Volcano Choir’s debut album, though with that comes a loss of what made Volcano Choir so interesting in the first place. There’s less experimentation on the album, as each and every song seems to fit in an overall scope of the album itself. There’s no random indents of experimental musical passages that break up the overall album. It’s also frustrating that every track seems to follow the same structure, of starting off slow and then building up into big crescendos. There’s few moments that break this format, making the whole album feel a little less creative.
Overall, ‘Repave’ is still an interesting album, that hardcore fans of Vernon’s music will enjoy. The whole album flows incredibly well, and is very enjoyable musically. There’s a few gimmicks on the album that Vernon seems to use in his daily career, which is a shame to see him not breaking free of, though it allows the project to remain much more recognizable as his own. ‘Repave’ is in some ways a bit of an inaccessible album, as it doesn’t follow the conventional norms that some of Vernon’s other projects did, though it still remains an incredibly enjoyable one. It certainly does create a bit of a buzz for Volcano Choir as a band as well, as it creates anticipation for further continuation of the project.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
Volcano Choir’s second album ‘Repave’ is out now.