By Wes Davis
Ranging from broken acoustics layered with harmonious vocal chords of “29 #Strafford APTS”, reminding us of For Emma, Forever Ago, to the well produced and distorted autotune of “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” building off of Bon Iver’s self titled album, 22, A Million fills you with the raw emotion that Bon Iver is known for and instrumentation that further secures the band’s place in history. After five years of anticipation Bon Iver teased us with the release of three singles: “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” “33 ‘God.’”, and “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” to then release 22, A Million. This album doesn’t have the seamless flow that Bon Iver produced for their self titled album, however, 22 A Million starts similarly as ‘Bon Iver’ with track 1 building and dropping to allow track 2 leeway to contrast to the prior with distorted bass and percussion. The majority of the songs incorporate Justin Vernon’s (band leader) pitched-shifted voice, such as 715 – CR∑∑KS, where it is Vernon’s voice a capella, autotuned and chorded. The autotune and highly processed digital sounds echo that of early 2000’s but strewn across Vernon’s heartfelt and anxious lyrics and melodies reach the level intimacy only known from For Emma, Forever Ago.
Much like in Vernon’s experience of isolation when writing his 2008 album, 22 A Million was written on a Greek amidst many panic attacks. Track 1 reflects this early stage of writing, while the entire album mirrors his anxious and ethereal lyrics with the scarce and absorbing melodies. 22, A Million is not the classic idea of set structured songs but an interpretation of feelings and emotions thrown together with inharmonious sounds and noises, such as “21 Moon Water” which fades pristinely into “8 (circle)”. From there the album closes with a gospel feel and banjo riff in “___45_____,” showing that Bon Iver holds its folk roots of For Emma, Forever Ago and finally “000000 Million” gives us bittersweet chords, a familiar feel that we know and love.