Bon Iver – the name strikes a chord in the hearts of fans whenever they hear it. The name a variant on the French phrase “Bon Hiver” which means “Good Winter.”
This perfectly sums up the feeling of finding hope in the middle of a cold winter that this band gives off . This project began when Justin Vernon, the lead singer (and the man who put the band together), had just broken up with his previous band, ended a relationship and contracted mono. He retreated back to his hometown and, while in the solitude of his family’s cabin, the idea came for the first songs of the 2007 classic album For Emma, Forever Ago. To this day, people cherish this album and for good reason. The beautiful sadness in Justin Vernon’s voice is like the sun melting through the ice on a frosty morning. The follow up to For Emma, Forever Ago was the Grammy winning album “Bon Iver, Bon Iver,” which refined the sadness of the first album and gave it a more existential feel. The progression in their sound was definitely notable but that album was released in 2011. Five years later, on the Sept, 30, 22, A Million was released – a very different album from the band’s previous releases. It includes samples of electronic elements. While this album departs from what the band has made before, it is by no means less touching or heart felt.
“22 (OVER S∞∞N),” the haunting opening to the album is “It might be over soon” with a ringing falsetto that we had been missing for so many years. This song deals with Justin’s insecurities and doubts that persist even though he has become successful in achieving his original goal. It also deals with his experiences through the years performing and travelling, as he tries to find himself.
The second track “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ” shows Justin fighting to love someone. It’s about his fears and struggles in a relationship and overcoming them. A heavy jarring electronic beat opens up this song to convey the ferocity of this relationship. It’s a powerful song that shows you this record is willing to be very different from anything you’ve heard from Bon Iver in the past.
“715 – CRΣΣKS” is a heavily layered purely signing track, a soulful ballad with the feeling of being stuck in one place whether it be in religious or in a romantic sense.
“33 “GOD”” is a playful piano track that plays into the religious aspects of the album. This song is an amalgamation of love and feeling of abandonment. The sampled backbeat and subtle uplifting banjo make for an engaging listening experience.
“29 #Strafford APTS” is the song that most resembles Bon Iver songs from the past. This song is about being lost and having conflicting ideas and emotions about someone.
“666 ↓” Is a song that relates to the dark side of the music industry and how fame, like love, can tear you apart or raise you up.
“21 M◊◊N WATER” “And we definitely said to…..” the opening line to this track interestingly played in reverse. A calming and easy listen from this album that deals with the numerical theme of 22, A Million.
“8 (circle)” This track has to do with love and loss and feeling like you can’t get out of your cycle. It’s a spiritual experience to listen to this song.
“ 45 ” is another song with parallel lyrics and sound. This song is about a panic attack that Justin Vernon had while alone in Greece. It’s about being alone when you’re in a time of need and facing a terrifying situation that seems to never end.
“00000 Million” This song wraps up the album in a beautiful man that feels like an appropriate conclusion. Overall, this album is about personal strife in all aspects of Justin’s life. While it isn’t For Emma, it doesn’t try to be. It’s a natural progression in a human being’s life and there is something breathtaking about that.
If you haven’t already, I definitely recommend you check out Bon Iver.
– Bernie Bernhardt