If last year's Volcano Choir record hasn't sated your apatite for things-that-sound-like-Bon-Iver-but-aren't then Boo, Forever are a band for you!
From their press release I get the impression that Boo, Forever are really proud that they sound like Bon Iver. It’s not all that hard to understand, either; the last, eponymous, Bon Iver record was one of the best albums to have been made in the last few years, and there’s no shame in having high ambitions. There’s no denying, either, that Boo, Forever do a damn good impersonation. In Bones this ‘collective’ of lo-fi folktronicists have written one song, at least, that could well have come straight from the pen (and vocal chords) of Justin Vernon himself.
Sonic doppelgängers aside for a moment, Bones feels out of place on this record. It stands apart. The album feels like it was born of inspiration and experimentation, whereas Bones feels decidedly “written”; a complete work that exists just as much in the craft and arrangement as in the performance. Conversely, the rest of this LP puts me more in mind of the organic sound-sculpture of The Books or the improvisation-led experimentation of Laid-era James than it does Bon Iver, despite the music being absolutely riddled in Iver-isms.
It could be said there’s too much imitation on this record. The otherworldly hollering and firework sound effects on The Bloodred, for instance, sounds more like a plagiarism of Creature Fear than a homage. But when this record shines is when it doesn’t sound like anyone else. Boo, Forever do a really good Bon Iver impression – so good that I’d still love this record if that’s all they did – but they’re also much better at sounding like Boo, Forever and I’d encourage them to work on that aspect of their music more.
As a reviewer it seems like a cheap shot to make easy comparisons, and mentioning Bon Iver far more often than the band themselves feels like a bad job done quickly. Even so, there’s no getting around it; this record is great, but sits in an obvious and omnipresent shadow. Boo, Forever have a great ear for song construction, and the production on this record is the kind that I pray for as a music fan – this is exactly the kind of music that I like! – but I hope the best is yet to come.