Posts Tagged ‘A Million’

Bon Iver’s first album in five years takes an unexpected turn toward the strange and experimental. But behind the arranged glitches and processed voices are deeply felt songs about uncertainty.

10 days after its release, and I’m still getting my head around the beautiful weirdness that is Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, but if you pushed me for a favorite song, then I’d probably say “#29 Strafford APTS.” A sweeping acoustic ballad that provides an alien-like spin on Justin Vernon’s more traditional breed of folk and Americana, it comes paired with a video that sees the track’s inscrutable lyrics splayed out across Illuminati-esque imagery.

Created/Produced/Directed by Aaron Anderson & Eric Timothy Carlson

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Justin Vernon held a press conference over the weekend to discuss 22, A Million, breaking down the process of recording, the sounds that inspired him, and the moment he almost scrapped the record. The album, in Vernon’s words, is defined by “explosiveness and shouting more.” “33 ‘God‘” in many ways, captures the crux of this new direction. There’s an air of cross-pollination to it, notably from James Blake and Kanye West. A few months ago, chopped vocal samples, helium pitch-shifting and an industrial sputter would have been on the low-probability end of things you would have expected from a new Bon Iver song.

The emphasis on experimentation and unusual structure obscures what is, skeletally, a straightforward song about doubt and articles of faith. There’s no chorus to speak of, and instruments clash with unprecedented force. On the other hand, you can imagine a stripped down acoustic version with untouched vocals working on the strength of the melodies. Some of the lyrics are precise (“I find God and religion too/Staying at the Ace Hotel”), others inscrutable (“The foreman is down/We’re rising the stairs”), effectively negotiating the polarity between deeply personal turmoil and arty abstractions.

Despite some recurring ticks and (of course) Vernon’s voice, these new songs make it abundantly clear that this project has grown far beyond its folk roots, with no discernible trajectory. Bon Iver doesn’t emerge often enough for us to be able to dissect trends or ongoing patterns anyways. We can plot where we are, but the lack of continuity essentially assures us that each record will be a snapshot. “33 ‘God” may serve as 22’s focal point.

22, A Million is the upcoming third studio album by American indie folk band Bon Iver, set to be released on September 30th, 2016. The album was premiered at Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires Music Festival

What Happened To Bon Iver: Well, he seems to have mostly dropped the sad singer-songwriter guy schtick and adopted a massive, reverb-y sound that sounds like it’s sucking you into an uncomfortable cloud. But don’t worry – his trademark falsetto hasn’t gone anywhere.

22, A Million Out September 30th on Jagjaguwar Records