Buzz abounded a few weeks back after Bon Iver’s eponymous sophomore effort was accidentally leaked by iTunes the day it was scheduled to release only the album’s first single, “Calgary.” Yesterday, however, the band decided to give fans a treat and stream the album in its entirety, scheduled for release June 21, on both NPR and The New York Times Web sites. For those who waited earnestly for the album instead of snagging a leaked version, the wait proved well worth it.

Justin Vernon tells the world a great lie when he sings, “All at once/I knew I was not magnificent.” Despite its lyrical obscurity, Bon Iver is just that: magnificent. The airy melancholy of For Emma dissipates slightly as Vernon expands his vocal range and works with pitch-perfect accompaniment in Bon Iver. With a full band backing this effort, Vernon strays from his breakthrough solo sound of 2008 just enough to merit a different ear this time around.

With half of the tracks named after places, real or not, Bon Iver aspires to take you away, to Minnesota, WI, to Hinnom, TX, to Calgary, and beyond. With solid instrumentation and vague lyrics, Vernon steps outside of the norm to evoke strong messages and emotions through the music. In this way, even the ambient instrumental piece “Lisbon, OH” causes the most casual listener to hitch a ride on Vernon’s musical road trip.

Critics have unfortunately already trashed the album’s last track, “Beth/Rest,” for its throwback sound, including heavy use of electric keys and guitar solos. The song in fact rounds out the album as a whole, offering a solid ending to a rather ethereal piece of work.

For Emma, Forever Ago fans will find comfort in the familiar timbre of tunes like “Holocene” and “Michicant.” Those ready to investigate a wider scope of the band’s talents will cling to “Minnesota, WI,” “Hinnom, TX,” and “Calgary,” where Vernon’s vocals depart from their typical tenor for more tenacious tones. Militaristic percussion grounds Vernon’s lofty vocals in the opening track, “Perth,” and “Wash.” rocks like a lullaby.

All in all, the album is much less melancholy than what Bon Iver regulars are used to hearing. It seems Justin Vernon has shed some of the pain that led him to the solitude in which he created For Emma, Forever Ago. Bon Iver adds an edge to the haunting backwoods hum fans have come to expect from Bon Iver. Approach this album with an open mind, and you might just find it sweeping you away.

Listen at NPR or NYT.