By: Jessica Nakamoto –
You walk down the halls of an art gallery, stopping every so often to gaze closely at the fine intricacies of thelifelike works of art. But upon entering the Impressionist wing, you pause. For it’s only upon taking a step back that the seemingly random swirls and painted textures come alive to form one cohesive picture.
In a similar fashion, the art of slipping in and out of focus is what Bon Iver does best.
Known for his sometimes confusing and nonsensical lyrics, the true beauty of bandleader Justin Vernon’s efforts is sourced from raw emotion and the fact that once in a while, you just have to feel the music, not necessarily understand it.
Cue i,i, the band’s fourth studio album and final quarter of Vernon’s winter-autumn season-inspired collections.
Released on August 8th via Jagjaguwar Records (with physical copies available on August 30), i,i, like a classic Monet painting, draws attention to the overall picture rather than the minute details of a traditionally cryptic Bon Iver production.
For while Vernon does take clear jabs criticizing issues such as the lack of care and attention directed at poverty (“U (Man Like)”) and climate change (“Jelmore”), the large majority of the album shines due to the rich sounds and overall impact of the songs as a whole, rather than the specific messages portrayed in each.
Sonically dipping into the unique palette of each of their previous records, Vernon pieces together not only the soulful and ethereal qualities of their first two records, but brings touches of synth and electronics, without the overwhelmingly auto-tuned effects of 22, A Million.
Tracks such as “iMi”, “Hey, Ma”, and “U (Man Like)”, represent the best of Bon Iver’s combined approach, and flaunt the use of both avant-pop pulsating electronic beats and slight distortions, as well as traditional indie-folk elements such as bright piano melodies and catchy guitar segments, which, although an unlikely pairing, produce a distinct atmosphere and benefits the overall emotion of each song.
For when lost amongst sentimental memories (Hey, Ma) or fully enveloped in Vernon’s feelings of love on a “bright fall morning” (iMi), fuzzy details such as the comparison between bass boats and concrete (Naeem) or the use of the non-existent adjective “anoberic” (Salem), become less apparent as listeners find themselves taking a step back and falling in love with the bigger picture.