22, A Million
It’s less music and more art, but it promises not to disappoint.
Echoing guitars, wailing tortured artist vocals and a beard to be reckoned with are pretty solid grounds for every acoustic folk band because of Justin Vernon.
The wide success of 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago and 2011’s self-titled album Bon Iver gave us high expectations for 22, A Million. If Justin Vernon’s remote cabin in the middle of the Wisconsin woods where he recorded For Emma, Forever Ago could meet 22, A Million, we just can’t be sure they would like each other. Love it or hate it, two things are true: 22, A Million is a pretty bold statement on the world’s current state of affairs and Justin Vernon is a true artist.
If you are looking to listen to some music to relax after a long day, I can promise you 22, A Million is not the album. Just one listen of the first song on the album, “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” has its listeners accidentally toying with the meaning of existence. The existential crisis does not get easier, and no consolation is offered throughout the album. Only repeated sentences, echoing electronic sounds and purposeful glitches. “Experimental” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Justin wrote most of his latest album on “vacation” in Europe while he struggled with panic attacks and depression. His song titles and album artwork perfectly fit the chaos of the music and presumably his own experiences. Working closely with artist Eric Timothy Carlson, Justin Vernon hashed out the visuals, symbols and imagery that are all seemingly unconnected. However, this is far from the truth. In 22, A Million, chaos connects. It can be a hard pill to swallow as a listener, but it’s also uncomfortably close to what this generation already knows to be true: life is messy and means something different to everyone. You can’t listen to this album without considering your place in the world; you can’t listen to this album without being confused or overwhelmed. But it’s phenomenal.
If you are open to the difference in style, stick around for “33 GOD” and ”715 -CR∑∑KS”. The album may be a bit of an existential crisis, but it’s an important one that calls everyone to create and share their stories-maybe even come together and realize that we’re all struggling with the same things. It’s less music and more art, but it promises not to disappoint.