22, A Million is a Radical, Innovative and compelling album, different yet full of wonders.


The critical acclaimed Grammy award winner  Bon Iver  has finally returned. After sorting out personal issues for a long time and finishing other side projects (with Volcano Choir & The Shouting Matches).  Justin Vernon returns, different in a very well-prepared manner, compelling in many ways. Following the outstanding release of their “For Emma, Forever Ago” and “Bon Iver, Bon Iver”,  these instrumental  folk rock group returns with “22, A Million”, which in a several months ago they played their new debut album fullset during a peformnace in Eaux Claires Festival.


Produced by Justin Vernon himself, this album took an unexpected turn towards the folktronica, techno, arranged glitches and experimental noises. Released by Jagjaguwar records, 22 A Million tells a more distinctive story behind the Bon Iver we’ve used to know, the loner, rejected, heartbroken, sick and longing for sadness, however all of that basic keynote elements have wore off and they have created a distant difference from their folk persona. Bon Iver evolve through out the times, they thrive and endulge what they do best. They create.



22 A Million is filled with 10 tracks with a total runtime almost half an hour, exactly 34 minutes of running time, Vernon breaks his guitar hugging persona and turn a full face onto a board full of synths and loops, strangely it still sounds like Bon Iver. I guess Vernon has that one of those vocal sounds that you could identify and recognize quickly, 22 A Million challenges us as  listeners to accept a new, self-aware perspective of Bon Iver itself. The album starts off with “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” a song from top to end filled with static assure of “It Might Be Over Soon” while a sound twinkling guitars and a sampled vintage gospel record playing in the background but the sheen of Justin Vernon’s vocals wisely keeps the song grounded in the band’s style.


“10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠” is a circuit of boards marching simultaneously in a corresponding manner, with crannied ruptured vocals Vernon accompanied it perfectly. Weird Symbols, ecstatic lyrics, imagine Bjork and Radiohead combined together. "715 CRΣΣKS," it has Vernon trademark falsetto coming right through from a thick vocoder haze. He sings about being abandoned, either by love or God or something else intangible, “And love at second glance, it is not something that we need / Honey, understand that I have been left here in the reeds / And all I'm trying to do is get my feet up from the creeks." this track maybe somewhat emotional to himself . 


In “33 “GOD”” Bon Iver presents like a grandeur post-rock beatdown tempo riveting in every corner, with a signature flare of static voices glitching in the background while Vernon falsetto set up the bar high, a speak of voices unto god itself, with lyrics that strikes as a sentiment to religion. “29  #Strafford APTS” one of my most favourite tracks on this album, this is one of those songs that resembles the strain of folk dna from For Emma Forever Ago album. Vernon added altered vocals, queasily pitched saxophones, and distorted electronic tones to provide some drama to the song. “666 ʇ” is a pillars of digitized orchestra, multi-tracked voice in electronica swirls, samples and beats. The intro sound similar like the one in the beginning of his live studio performance of ‘Hinnom TX’.


"21 M◊◊N WATER,” is oddly and weirdly affecting you, starts off easy with looping soft vocals, then slams you with a spiralling off-kilter jazz sax is looped and digitised as this tracks plays out, the horn’s raw, blown tone slowly sucked of its soul and life force. In ”8 (circle)” is a slow tuned down track a reminiscent of references on “Bon Iver, Bon Iver”, small vocal manipulation and the most composed track that reflect to Bon Iver itself. “____45_____” dazed and confused, Vernon repeatedly continued with “I’ve been caught in the fire” while the sax smooths and glitched out in the background, ended with a slight play of banjo slowly fleeing. “00000 Million” a haunting closing that  offers a melancholic piano-led meditation that makes some final, abrupt peace with Vernon’s past.


In “22, A Million” Vernon blends layers of treated vocals, electronics and samples into his soulful folk, although it seemed radical to be bizzarely changing from their inner persona on their recent past albums. 22 A Million is a challenging album to be heard, but can be rewarding at same time.




Reinhart Jeremy is writer of REVOIRREVOLVE, music enthusiast, and vinyl junkie.

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