Bon Iver “22, A Million” Review

Wow. Album of the year?

Bon Iver’s 22, A Million is both a departure from, and yet a continuation of, his/their previous two albums. It’s a masterful tapestry of harmonizing vocals, ethereal atmosphere, and mesmerizing electronic flourishes. It’s one of those rare works that shows an artist evolving, yet still able to maintain the core of what made them great (and popular) to begin with. Dylan going electric, so to speak.

Bon Iver’s debut For Emma, Forever Ago was a masterpiece in tone and feeling. Recorded almost entirely by himself, tucked away in a secluded cabin, it’s layers of melancholy vocals and sounds set over acoustic guitar.

We had to wait 4 long years for Bon Iver, Bon Iver. Production values increased, and while it was an excellent album with some incredible standouts (“Beth/Rest” for one), it didn’t quite have the magic of its predecessor.

For 22, A Million there’s a decided shift in the sound. In addition to guitars and Justin Vernon’s trademark vocal harmonies, electronic modulations and samples abound. And the amazing thing is… it works. What could have been a gimmick somehow blends perfectly into the music. It’s new, yet still unquestionably Bon Iver.

Check this out. The first video is one of my favorite tracks off the first album. It’s everything that makes Bon Iver great: beautiful harmonies and songs of melancholy yet with a trace of hope.

Now, the bigger sound from the second album:

Now here is the first track off the new album. It shows immediately you’re in for something different.

Or this amazing track:

The problem I often have with music reviews is if I like something enough to want to share with you all, I risk delving into hyperbole. Eh… so be it. I listed to this album back to back 5 times. I never do that. Well, almost never.

If you’ve never heard of Bon Iver, start with the first album and work your way forward. If you’re an old fan, let me casually just say OMG HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW BON IVER ALBUM!!!

22, A Million is available now on iTunes, Amazon, and pretty much wherever else you buy music.