Just in time for fall, earthy singer Bon Iver released his new album “22, A Million” on Sept. 30. Despite the album only having 10 tracks and being 34 minutes in length, Bon Iver’s latest offers an invigorating sound to fans of the artist.
Arguably, “22, A Million” starts with its strongest track: “22 (OVER S∞∞N).” A rhythmic, repeating beat and the gentle voice of a woman begin the song. Bon Iver’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Justin Vernon begins to sing much later, with punctuated and proverbial lyrics. Guitar, piano and saxophone are slowly added, giving the song more space for sound until its climax and transition into the slightly more energetic “10 d E A T h b R E a s t ⚄ ⚄.”
“33 ‘GOD’” is reminiscent of Bon Iver’s older albums. “22, A Million” contains many mechanical, synthesized sounds. However, “33 ‘GOD’” brings back Vernon’s unintelligible but poignant voice, the sharp beats of drums and slow piano.
Slow and steady begins “666 ʇ.” The percussive beat endures for nearly a full minute until Vernon starts to sing about the decision to let something go. He goes back and forth, seemingly having a conversation with himself, until he eventually says, “I’ve laughed about it / I’ve laughed about it.” An unconventional song about loss, “666 ʇ” carries weight and gives feeling to an omnipresent understanding of the paths we’ve conceded to be where we are today.
The last song of the album, “00000 Million” finishes with a piano melody and the constant journey ahead, tying the other tracks together into a perfect package. Vernon sings more on “00000 Million” than on his other tracks, which really emphasizes the central theme of the album: that despite hardships, difficult roads or heartbreaks, we all continue on. His final line summarizes by saying: “Well it harms it harms me it harms, I’ll let it in.”
Bon Iver is best known for their song “Skinny Love.” Despite its commercial success, Bon Iver still remains an unheard of artist. They are not one to be heard on the radio, but it is perfect for long nights studying or rainy Sundays.
While “22, A Million” was enjoyable, it broke away from Bon Iver’s regular music. They traded in smooth beats and temperate melodies for heavily edited vocals and thrown together keyboard features. “22, A Million” gives Bon Iver a new sound, which on some tracks is pleasant and on others is just annoying.
With this in mind, Bon Iver’s experimentation could lead to something better down the road. As Bon Iver ventures from traditional music making with acoustic guitars and slow pianos, it will be interesting how he adds more modern technology into the indie-folk genre.