AFTER five years of waiting and dozens of bizarre Instagram teasers, the third effort from Wisconsin’s favourite son Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, 22, A Million has finally arrived.This album cements Bon Iver’s deviation from the alt-folk genre that he has become synonymous with. Opening track and lead single ‘22, Over Soon’ serves as a perfect bridge between the band we’ve come to love and the brave new sound they’re asking us to fall in love with. The song introduces us to Vernon’s new toolbox; samples used almost like allusions in poetry, breakbeats and pitch altering technologies.
The traditional fan is immediately shocked out of their safe space by the heaviest track on the album, the dub-esque ‘10 deathbreast’. However, more folk elements can be found on tracks such as the standout ‘29 #Strafford APTS’, where the humble acoustic guitar makes a grand return to heart melting effect.
While at first glance 22, A Million seems like a departure from his earlier work, Vernon has always been capable of experimentation, even from as early on as ‘The Wolves’ (Acts I & II) from his debut album For Emma, Forever Ago as well as the entirety of 2009s Blood Bank EP.
This new direction may leave some fans uncomfortable. This is good
This new direction may leave some fans uncomfortable. This is good, however. Everything that made Bon Iver’s first two albums so special is still present. The fantastic songwriting, convoluted lyrics, the attention to detail and not to mention his flooring falsetto tone all remain integral. However, the addition and exploration of new ground and new technologies is what makes the album as beautiful and intriguing as it is.
In A Nutshell: Bon Iver may have completely departed from the style of his early days, but the sound he has now reached is just as haunting, jarring and monumental as anything previously heard.