BON IVER- i,i
Three years since it first emerged to passionate praise and perplexed head-scratching and seemingly nothing in between, Bon Iver’s last album, the enigmatic ’22, a Million’, still rewards repeat listens. From its abstract artwork and song titles, ‘i,i’ initially promises more of the same. There’s even a grand concept in play- this is apparently the final ‘season’ of Bon Iver, an autumn to the winter of first album ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’, the spring of ‘Bon Iver’, and the summer of that last, inscrutable outing. Dig just a little deeper though and everything feels a little… off.
The sandy wheezes of ‘iMi’ are reassuring but not exactly substantial, ‘Jelmore’ is a warped, haunting effort, and ‘Hey Ma’ captures the soaring grace of the self-titled record but, let alone repeat listens, other tracks don’t command attention even once, some redundant even. Maybe Bon Iver were trapped, maybe they already pushed their sound as hard as they could without breaking it, and this is what happens when they play nice, but that doesn’t stop ‘i,i’ sounding far too polite, even lifeless by comparison.
The whole damn canvas is askew anyways- autumn nothing, everything here is way more summery, sun-baked, and stoned than what’s come before.