Justin Vernon has finally followed up to his last album Bon Iver, Bon Iver after 5 years, with electronically-folk based album, 22 A Million. This album is similar to his others in terms of vocals being fiddled with through synthesizing however, different in the sense that it utilizes electronics’ far more than his past albums. This album includes many sharp cuts, random sound snippets, and distorted production. Some of these characteristics are negative in tracks, and some of them are positive in different tracks- either way, it is a unique piece of work.
Appropriately, the album opens with 22(OVERSoon), in which you can instantly recognize that this is going to be something different than his past work. This track is very abstract, and includes some female vocals that are very flattering to the track. They are placed in the beginning, and then randomly throughout. I enjoy this track, except when it sounds like the track is annoyingly skipping.
715-CREEKS opens with an acapella based style, but vocals are very electronic sounding. A part of me wished that it was more raw sounding to match the acapella style rather than take away from it but, it still works- almost how Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap works carrying an extremely similar style.
I admire the fact that this album was made and clearly attempts to sound different than his others however, there are far too many electronics and snippets. It is attempting to be extremely abstract, but at times sound’s sloppy. For instance, 33 “GOD” was a track that began very nicely with some soft piano and some synthesizing was added, but as the track goes on more and more is added and it just sounds like far too much. Additionally, 21 Moon Water sounds distorted as well, however it had a nice transition, which is something that is not very commonly found throughout this album. As for tracks that didn’t sound extremely distorted, vocals were over-edited. “666 ʇ” carried a beautiful introduction and was a little more quiet compared to the rest of the album, but vocals were too loud and over-edited for the tone of the song- but there is still an appreciation for the emotion carried within them. Similarly, with the closing track “00000 Million”; it is very intricate and personal but would sound so much better with raw vocals. With this being said, the background vocals that subtly repeat throughout the song “days have no numbers” is very flattering to the track.
Another problem I have with this album, is the way that each track ends. I only found that the album was fluent in very few areas, which was bothersome. Most songs sounded as if they were unfinished.
The best track on this album by far, is “8 (circle)”. It perpetuates a quick and odd sounding introduction, but utilizes soft drumming at the beginning setting the tone of the song. Vocals here are so raw, distinct, and beautiful. In a majority of Vernon’s work vocals are fiddled with, and are rarely heard so intimately. Another additive to this track is the soft brass that constantly fluctuates throughout the track perfectly, and the soft and intricate rhythm throughout.
Considering this is the first Bon Iver album in 5 years, I found it somewhat disappointing just because it was so electronically played around with. It is my personal least favourite out of his albums, but it is still an interesting piece of work.