Three full years on from 22, A Million, Bon Iver return with a fresh new album following their trajectory of increasingly coded album titles (the next one will probably just be a single underscore). A press release describes the band’s evolution: “From the winter of For Emma, Forever Ago came the frenetic spring of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the unhinged summer of 22, A Million. Now, fall arrives early with i,i.” The album features the fried cerebral electronics exhibited on 22, A Million side by side with the buttery brass arrangements that stood out on Bon Iver, Bon Iver, bringing Justin Vernon’s vocals into sharp focus. And it’s as if he’s got more to say now than ever before: “It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete. It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work” - and nothing screams perspective and maturity like a reminder to call your mom. The tender “Hey, Ma” features Vernon’s soaring voice (“I waited outside, I was tokin’ on dope, I hoped it all won't go in a minute”) over a lush bed of synth pads and chipmunk’d vocal flourishes. Vernon & squad cover a ton of ground without repeating anything: “Jelmore” sounds glitchy and OP-1-heavy (“I never leave the house without it” - Vernon), like 22, A Million in all the right ways, while the comparably stripped-down “U (Man Like)” sounds like Vernon and co doing a Controversy-era Prince cover at some college piano bar on a tour stop. The epic “Faith” starts with tempered acoustic strumming, choral harmonies and strings before giving way to a crescendo of electric guitar and the charred remains of what may have been a chart-topping EDM beat. Krauty grooves and vintage afrobeat keyboards coalesce serendipitously on "Salem," and "Sh’Diah" is a sublime, atmospheric false coda before the lighthearted actual outro, "RABi." Apparently it takes a village to make a Bon Iver record, and in addition to a core band consisting of longtime collaborators S. Carey, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Mike Lewis, Matt McCaughan and Rob Moose, Vernon enlists the help of James Blake, The National’s Bryce and Aaron Dessner (Vernon and Aaron released a full-length collab as Big Red Machine last year), Moses Sumney, Francis Starlite, Naeem Juwan (yes, Spank Rock! and one of the songs is even named after him!), Bruce Hornsby, Polica’s Channy Leaneagh and more. Black vinyl pressing housed in matte gatefold jacket with spot gloss accents and clear printed slipcase with full-color 28 page booklet, all designed by Eric Timothy Carlson (22, A Million), recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
- matte gatefold jacket w/ spot gloss accents
- housed in clear printed slipcase
- includes full-color 28 page booklet
- music label: Jagjaguwar 2019
reviewed by Wisconsin Death Trip 07/2019