We Review ’22, A Million’ by Bon Iver

words by Angus Dawson

Where do I start? It’s probably best to mention early-on that I am a massive Bon Iver fan, so if you’re one of those super strange people who aren’t a fan, probably best not to read on. I guess I’ll start from the beginning. A friend of mine bought me his first album ages ago for Christmas and I can remember drunkenly crawling into bed on Christmas Eve and listening to it in full. When it ended I was like ‘shit, what just happened’, so I listened to it again and again for about 4 hours until just before sunrise. The next afternoon I gave it another spin to make sure my intoxicated brain wasn’t exaggerating its brilliance, it wasn’t. Then the self-titled album came along. This one copped an absolute thrashing as well. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped listening to it. A while ago he ran a remix competition for each of the songs on this album, and I had no interest in entering but I just wanted the stems so I could get a glimpse into his brain. Needless to say it was a fantastic afternoon spent dissection his tunes. Which brings us to now. As I’m writing these words I have ’22, A Million’ blasting in my headphones. I’m on the eighth or ninth full listen and its fast becoming one of my all time favourites. I find it amazing how many people have such an intensely personal and strong relationship with his music, hell of a feat.

All three of his studio albums are immensely different in production with ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ being largely acoustic guitar and voice, ‘Bon Iver’ captures a wide array of instruments for a full, lush and beautiful sound and ’22, A Million’ is super digitally glitchy and distorted while remaining ultra pretty.

Here are my top three moments:
3. ___45____. Vocoder on the Sax, of course, it makes so much sense. The Sax resembles the sound of vocals so much and yet I’ve never heard anyone use a vocoder on Saxophone. I bet everyone will now though, I know I will be.
2. 8 (circle). Just an unquestionably great song, classic Vernon. Pretty straightforward and simple but fucking awesome at the same time. Just makes me feel things, good things. For some reason I get an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I hear this track.
1. 715 – CR∑∑KS. Phwoar, talk about feelings. I’m a sucker for accapella and vocoder, so this guy was immediately off to a good start. Throw into the mix an incredibly written song and a vocal performance that gives me goosebumps the size of golf balls every time and yeah, just so so so good. I love how there’s even a mistake in there, as in, there’s a note during one of the vocal runs that doesn’t belong. I reckon he just fucked up and was like ‘oh, not bad actually’ and left it. If so, this is a big part of why I think I love this music so much, it just feels right, its all about feeling above all else.

He’s taught me so much about songwriting, arranging and production. In my eyes he has the midas touch, I’ve loved pretty much every single piece of music he’s ever put out and travelling across Australia to see him live at the Sydney Opera House was probably to most awesome musical pilgrimage I’ll ever be a part of. I was in pure musical ecstasy. There could have been bombs exploding all around me and I wouldn’t have noticed. If I go on to my iTunes I’ll have 73 Bon Iver tracks and I can safely guarantee that I love everything about every single of of them. When it comes down to it, it’s because of the songs, he’s an absolutely astounding songwriter. On first listen of ’22, A Million’ it took me an average of around 10 seconds to decide that I loved that track and I’m prepared to be objective, he’s just too good. My definition of a song is, chords + melody, Justin Vernon is a master at both. Justin Vernon is my hero.

Rating: ★★★★★

’22, A Million’ is available now through Jagjaguwar.

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