I’ve had the first single from Bon Iver’s eponymous album on loop for a good hour now, and I can barely begin to pretend to understand the song’s subject matter. What I can tell you is that “Calgary” starts with a soft swell and builds through to the bridge like the prelude to a kiss.

Justin Vernon’s sweet voice sweeps onto the scene with tenderness in the first verse, not adding his honeyed harmonies until the second. By the third, a light beat and electronic sounds pepper the background, readying the listener for the driving rhythm of the fourth stanza. All this culminates when, bursting with anticipation, Vernon abandons his trademark tenor for a surprising vocal departure on the bridge. Surprising, yes, but it works. Oh, does it work. But he doesn’t leave it there. Vernon’s return to his dulcet tones for the final verse is a gratified sigh, closing out the song on the high hat like the quickened heartbeat of a satisfied lover.

The follow-up to 2008’s critically acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver Bon Iver is one of the most anticipated sophomore albums of the year. Get your copy of the free “Calgary” download at http://www.boniver.org/ and comment here to let me know what you think of the song.