Twenty to a New Million

F.E. Abouelsoud, Staff Reporter

22, A Million sheds a new light on an untouched side of Bon Iver, one that is filled with raw emotion. Upon first listen, one may be confused in the face of this new sound that he has displayed. However a second run through is necessary. As one listens through the layers of emotion, the familiar sounds fans expect of Bon Iver are found.

The manner in which the emotion is created stems from a place of cathartic release. This album mirrors the tipping point of emotional buildup. The clash of these emotions creates a discordant mixture of sounds that may seem different but stem from a familiar place. Beneath this initial exposure to clashing sounds, a shared element is found. The honesty of this display of emotion creates a connection across the album and within each song, tieing this narrative together.

Narrowing in upon each song may keep one from seeing the overall picture, which is why I recommend listening to this album one time from start to finish. The flow of these emotions may not have a discernible sense, yet this embodies the essence of this album. A catharsis is not controlled and the way the emotions are a consequence from said catharsis may not be understood along a traditional temporal framework. Yet the summation of the parts completes the whole, the key way I recommend listeners to approach this album. I attempted to find a pattern to the flow of emotion on this album. However what I found is that the progression I assigned initially would be shuffled with the second and third times I listened to the album. Hence my recommendation to listen to the album as whole before passing judgements.

My personal favorite from this album is 33 ‘God’. From an instrumental perspective, this song is like the pinch of salt used to juxtapose the overall sweetness of a dessert. The use of the guitar and drums in this song are a refreshing divergence from overall sound of the album. The repetition of this riff feels like splashes of water that reinvigorate the listener’s attention to the emotions of the rest of the album. Another personal favorite is the consecutive song, “29 #Strafford APTS”, which adopts the most prominent characteristics of older Bon Iver works. It carries a softer touch that drips with a different kind of sadness than the remainder of the album. This sadness is amplified when the song scratches, as if the record has been pushed out of place.

I highly recommend a listen to this album, especially to folks who are looking for an introduction to this artist. Though this may be a divergence from the manner in which Bon Iver’s music has carried itself, its uniqueness prompts further investigation into the works of Bon Iver, which do not disappoint. Listening with an open mind and giving the album a chance to grow on you will result in an added experience individual from other albums recently released.