Rating (8.6)

Pete Yorn's debut album Musicforthemorningafter came at the right time for me: an adolescent down on his luck with girls and life and everything in-between. Eight years later, Back & Forth has grabbed me the same way. Call it nostalgia, call it good timing, call it refined bitterness parelling the life of a singer/songwriter putting out his most touching, honest album in years.

Back & Forth is subtle in its heart-on-sleeve moments, like in "Thinking of You" where he offers "it won't happen again...'til the next time"; a glimpse of openess and self-awareness one might find too paralyzing to admit even to themselves. The album gives way for an introspective, self-reflective Yorn; less innocent than his beginnings, much less doe-eyed and mopey. If Morning was like hitting rockbottom, then Back & Forth is a manic-depressive revisit, this time a self aware experience, readying oneself for impact. His hushed, cloudy vocals still yank at heartstrings with lyrical charm. Though he's not a literary genius by any means, Yorn writes candidly, like someone curled up with a pen and journal, stipped bare and fueled by their emotions.

Back & Forth is a fluid album, unlike the few leading up to it which felt more like compilations of songs and styling that, though well-oiled, were all over the map, many times over-produced and less-than-sincere. Whether he's singing about a "white trash beach" or a "social development dance" Yorn has a unique way of telling stories without overloading you with detail; he combines abstract ("I keep seeing you in sheets of white") with solid recollection ("we were great last summer").

In Yorn's 2003 hit, "Crystal Village" he sang "it was good in the beginning." He returns to that beginning, to tge strong roots clenching tighly to Musicforthemorningafter, and adding life experiences, growth, and maturity along the way.
Rating (9.0)

Bon Iver remains the only band that can make secrets, breakups, and blood banks seem so hopelessly romantic. On the follow up EP to 2008s For Emma, Forever Ago, frontman Justin Vernon takes you through his journey of emotions with 4 dynamic pieces, beginning with the title track, "Blood Bank". The lyrics begin with simple yet significant scenarios and build to endearing confessions like "I'm in love with your honor; I'm in love with your cheeks". The percussion is limited to just basic drumming, leaving the overlapped vocal harmonies as the driving force behind the song.

Vernon continues to deliver his heart-on-his-sleeve with the notable track "Beach Baby", where a lonely guitar and fragments of sentences paint a picture of lost love and memories of making love on the beach. Sadly, the EP doesn't finish as strong as it started. Bon Iver fans will probably find themselves bearing with Vernon as he explores the vocoder on the last track, "The Woods". However, the group does not disappoint with this little gem, and it leaves us with an intense anticipation for further full-length releases.

See also their contribution to the "Dark was the Night" compilation; "Brackett, WI", which has quickly become a repeat on my shuffle.

-Ila Joy