2016, Music

22, a Million (2016) by Bon Iver

I have no idea what I thought Bon Iver sounded like but it wasn’t this.

Well, okay, I had an idea. It might have been wrong. I think I thought he was a folk-pop singer songwriter. Note I thought it was just one guy. So, I, um, was surprised by the music on the album.

I am old and I don’t like Auto-Tune. I know it is just a tool to create music and I don’t want to prevent people from using it. I’m just not super interested in listening to music where auto-tune is a primary part, even if it is used creatively. And it’s really hard to listen to this album and evaluate it without getting distracted by every use of the harmonizer.

But I’m trying, I’m trying.

I feel like there’s some Flaming Lips here and a some Dirty Projectors and likely a whole lot of stuff I’m not even remotely familiar with. It’s very to clear to me, whatever the influences, that this is Art. It’s super idiosyncratic and not obvious. I saw someone claim this is his/their Kid A and without knowing the earlier music I can at least conceive of how that might be true. It’s very clearly an artistic statement, and I suspect a pretty massive left-turn.

But it’s one of those records where I know I would like it more if I liked the influences more (even if I’m not 100% sure on the influences). Without enough reference points, and with my particular dislike of one of the main musical tools here, that harmonizer.

It’s entirely possible that this is actually great. If I knew their old music and I was well-enough versed in contemporary music to fully appreciate what they are doing, maybe I’d get it enough intellectually to give it its due. But I don’t think I can. So I’ll hedge.


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