Bon Iver is one of those bands who resides in the pocket of artists who rely on the hype from making fans wait for new music rather than the more prolific approach. The band’s latest album, 22, A Million is only their third studio release and although “Skinny Love” is still a relevant song in our culture, it feels like For Emma, Forever Ago was released…well….forever ago. Of course Bon Iver’s self titled second album was released after that, but that was still five years ago.
Justin Vernon has always been a unique singer/songwriter, but a decent one at that. He doesn’t necessarily follow the rules of composition, but who can blame him? Art shouldn’t have any rules right? 22, A Million is certainly not an exception when it comes to writing. The tracks (which all feature names organized like a Cam Newton Instagram post) feature compelling lyrics, but unfortunately are overpowered by the increasingly experimental sounds that have crept their way into Bon Iver’s music.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for experimentation in music, but I find it humorous that the same crowd who will rip on Top 40 music for being “all auto-tuned” is praising Bon Iver for an album that is almost completely hidden behind distorted vocals and choppy beats. Tracks like “33 “GOD”” and “29 #Strafford APTS” tease listeners with a calmer more melodic start to them, but disappoint us just as quickly, as they fall into a sloppy mashup that parades itself as “experimental genius”. “715 – CRΣΣKS” is a little bit of a throwback to older Bon Iver work, but is still heavy with synthetic instruments and vocals.
Sometimes I feel like some artists get away with mediocrity more because of their perceived artistry. “Skinny Love” will forever be one of the best songs written in my opinion, but that’s because the song had everything working for it. The melody, the instruments and the lyrics. I feel like that sort of song is probably residing on 22, A Million, but a gaudy execution throughout the whole album robs listeners of that possibility.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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