I feel pretty well qualified to write about this one. I’ve given it a few listens on the headphones, I’ve seen them play some of it live, and now I’ve listened to it in the Dolby Sound Studio with a blindfold on. So here’s what I think.
First up, if you love Bon Iver because of For Emma, Forever Ago or Bon Iver then you will continue to be disappointed. They have seemingly left that simple folky magic behind them forever. On the other hand, if 22, A Million is more your bag then you’re likely to be falling in love all over again.
The album mixes some experimental and hard-hitting set-pieces with your (slightly) more traditionally composed tracks that will inevitably be the main hits (including Hey, Ma and my favourite, Naeem). But, to be fair even these tracks are pretty amazing, and unique – they are unmistakably Bon Iver.
Fair to say that there are also some weaker tracks; U (Man Like) strikes an odd quasi-gospel tone and Salem could legitimately be a Coldplay track. It also goes on for one track too long – Sh’Dia is an awesome final track mash-up, but then it gets followed by RABi which sounds pretty pedestrian in comparison.
All in all, it’s pretty good. And on top of that, Bon Iver albums always grow on you. Listen to it enough and it’ll form a part of you.