Tone Deft

Bon Iver's

By Hanna Schindler
On October 6, 2016

After five years of ambiguous delay, Bon Iver fans everywhere were nearly certain they would never hear another album from singer-songwriter and Bon Iver vocalist Justin Vernon on his most well-known project. However, the indie band finally released its third, full-length album “22,  A Million” on Sept. 30.

Although Bon Iver has garnered the genre label of indie-folk from albums like “For Emma, Forever Ago” and the self-titled sophomore album “Bon Iver,” the band has never stuck to a constant conceptualized mold, and has always been just on the cusp of any one genre.

“22, A Million” most definitely agrees with this notion and expands on the band’s consistently experimental methodology. Continuing to use Justin Vernon’s aching falsetto to convey a narrative, the realism that is present in this new and distinct but still authentic narrative is perhaps what propels Bon Iver’s sound into an ether of extraordinary.

In the opening track, “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” the disparity and evolution of Bon Iver’s sound can be heard immediately. Followed by songs “10 d E A T h b R E a s T” and “29 #Strafford APTS,” you hear a juxtaposition of organic vocals and highly digitized sounds that take the album into a new realm of auditory emotion while leaving behind the folky strings from past albums.

As the track list proceeds, we hear gasps of what the band once was clinging onto this newly discovered sound of modernity. The album explores existential ideologies and expresses the most prevalent and solidified ideas on any album from the band’s discography.

Bon Iver is seemingly Justin Vernon’s escape from heartbreak, fleeing to the band from his other projects when he feels a powerful muse. On “For Emma, Forever Ago,” “Bon Iver” and the EP “Blood Bank,” we hear a development of heartbreak and an exploration of pain.  “22, A Million,” however, seems to be heartbreak of a different kind. This heartbreak exemplified on the album is an empathetic venture into the world.

The album embodies everything that Justin Vernon stands for. He seems to always be running from positive acclaim, always inescapably creating obsessively relatable music in a way that materializes every unconceivable idea and emotion that we as listeners come to recognize through his music.

Every time Vernon creates a new album, he only furthers his own “demise” into fame. With that being said, his efforts to put out an album that isn’t necessarily commercially successful and his use of esoteric track names and album art with experimental elements that completely veer away from the Bon Iver fans know, was a strategic move.

It made sense for Vernon to venture into a realm of sound that no indie, folk band has gone before. The oddities that gush from the album, while not anything that is out of the comfort zone for adventurous listeners, forge an experimental satisfaction that only increase the versatility of Bon Iver. “22, A Million” creates a monstrously beautiful accord with the rest of the band’s discography, and is ultimately the band’s most impressive record to date. 

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