Justin Vernon’s third Bon Iver album is a weird and wonderful thing
Warrington Parr Hall
For those of us who like to think we are well in touch with our sensitive sides, there nags that one eternal question: why is it that the lady always falls for a bastard? ...
No doubt about it, FLC are the guv'nors. They do what we all do, remodel their lives through the movies, but they take it that one step further; they live their roles to the max. Exquisitely unbelievable, they have taken all the classic gangster elements - robbing, loving, having fun - and turned them into some of the sultriest, sexiest superdude soulpop since Prince was any bloody good.
On their debut LP, 'Come Find Yourself', they constructed a vividly narcotic Noo Yawk 'hood through which to caper and rumble. And now here's '100% Colombian', the same deal only a little more stoned, a little more streetwise, a little jazzier, a little more cool.
Much of this album sounds like it was conceived in the back of a stretch limo with Huey's lungs pipeful and croaking while all those macho films run in endless backdrop. There are the funny rip-offs ("a little bag with much too many seeds" on the punked-up '10th Street'), the local larger-than-life characters like the storekeeper in 'Korean Bodega', the reflections on mortality that habitually follow the heist ("You be dead by 40 but you make a lotta money" - 'Up On The Hill') and the exaggerated respect beloved of the mobster ("Barry White saved my life" - 'Love Unlimited'). There are all the urban musical signifiers too - swathes of smoky sax, the Ernie Isley vapour trail guitar, the melancholy Morricone silver trumpet that underscores betrayal on 'Back On The Block', the surprising little snatches like the riff theft from Tom Petty's 'American Girl' that puts the barrel to the backbone of the sleazy 'Big Night Out' ("Got a supermodel on my D" indeed!). All slo-mo seductive like a Pacino screen murder.
And all pure bullshit of course. Those powders fuck you up. Take one of those bullets, you could wind up in a bag. But you can't blame them for trying. When Sinatra passed on, there was a lot of garbage written about his appeal when it was absolutely bleedin' obvious that we were awed by Frank because he ruled his world. He'd done what we all fantasise about doing. He'd assumed the stature and the wealth to establish complete control. He was beyond the law, beyond our morals, just... beyond. At least until the Grim Reaper paid him a long-overdue visit, that is.
Jack Nicholson pretty much lives there now. The coolest man on earth. And who knows, a couple more albums like this selling by the multi-million and Huey may just oust him. Fantasy made flesh. Couldn't happen to a nicer (wise) guy.
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