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September 2019

Bon Iver - 22, A Million

A succinct record of compressed and distorted ventures into folk, electronica and blues.
Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Published: 1:58 pm, September 29, 2016
A succinct record of compressed and distorted ventures into folk, atmospheric electronica and blues.

Label: Jagjaguwar
Released: September 30th 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Ahh Bon Iver. Even saying those two words sends people into a mesmeric daze. Yet that’s the exact power and importance of a Bon Iver record. It’s been five years since the release of their self-titled second record, which brought into colour the flourishes and future of a project that initially formed as a way to overcome the heartache and sheer loneliness hiding in the abyss after love has been lost. It’s been a method of communication for Justin Vernon to expel his darkest fears, and through that has found an audience that’s been longing for such honesty and bravery.

How to then follow that? Why try and distil human emotion into ten tracks when you’ve already done it so well? It’s that question which has preyed heavy on the mind of Justin. When it’s your experiences that so many draw towards, that pressure to not only deliver but survive can become unbearable. From that, comes ’22, A Million’. At just over 35 minutes long, it’s a succinct record of compressed and distorted ventures into folk, atmospheric electronica and blues - all coated with a digitalised sense of the modern world but always packed with emotion and soul, the emotion and soul that’s made Bon Iver what it is today. More than just a person or a band - but its own entity. Gurgling to stay above water, it captures humanity in 2016 and pulls you in to see it more clearly - examining love, fear and our own existence through the lens of pain and brutal self-evaluation.

What’s clear though, is that ’22, A Million’ is undeniably a step into fresh and new terrains for Justin Vernon. Allowing creativity and the sounds he’s been experimenting on to seep into the fabric of Bon Iver has triggered a record that sounds and feels like one made for 2016. It has that all encompassing tenderness and vulnerability that fuelled through the last two records, yet seems much more immediate and direct in its delivery.

What it is, is an outstanding record. Justin Vernon has once again laid his soul bare, and once again it’s undeniably vital. Jamie Muir

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