sat 19/10/2019

CD: Bon Iver – i,i | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Bon Iver – i,i

CD: Bon Iver – i,i

Ta-da! Justin Vernon treats fans to an early release of his band's fourth album

You're welcome: the stealth-released latest from Bon Iver

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have already heard most if not all of Bon Iver’s curiously named i,i album – weeks before its physical release on August 30. The band debuted two tracks (“Hey Ma” and “U (Man Like)”) at London’s All Points East festival back in June, and since then they’ve been dropping videos, teasers, singles and unrelased tracks all over the place. “Listening parties” on 7 August preceded the album’s official digital release on the 9th, with tracks popping up on Twitter and Spotify throughout the following day.

That certainly whipped up a lot of excitement among fans and press – but did clever marketing and hype overshadow the record itself? A press release calls it the completion of a cycle: “from the winter of For Emma, Forever Ago came the frenetic spring of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the unhinged summer of 22, A Million. Now, autumn arrives early with i,i”. This makes a lot of sense: much of i,i harks back to the dreamy, solitary nature of Bon Iver’s debut, seemingly taking a breath from the discordant confusion of 22, A Million.

In that vein are the moody, eerie “We”, and the lovely “Holyfields,” with its soft vocals and jittering synths on top of a swishing backdrop that sounds like waves rolling in. On the gorgeous, piano-led “U (Man Like)”, Bruce Hornsby and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus guest in an all-too-brief snatch of Prince-esque loveliness. The credit list for the album is long: other guest stars include James Blake, Velvet Negroni and Camilla Staveley-Taylor (of frequent Bon Iver collaborators The Staves).

It’s not perfect – there’s a bit too much parpy sax noodling and some of the songs are over before they’ve begun, but fans from all eras and incarnations of Bon Iver should find something to enjoy here.

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