A few thoughts on ‘i,i’


Press Release

Bon Iver released their newest album, “i,i” in Aug. of 2019.

Sara Croghan, Staff Writer

On August 9, 2019, Bon Iver released their fourth studio album, “i,i”. The indie folk band is most famously known for writing and first recording “Skinny Love,” a song that has been covered by various other popular artists, including Lennon Stella and Birdy. Bon Iver is known for pushing the confines of the music industry with their unique and alternative sounds, and this album pushes even further into the depths of alternative sound with a combination of folk and electronic tones. 

The album begins with a prelude of sorts in the first track, “Yi.” Although it is quite headache inducing, the clamour can be dismissed as merely an artistic warm up. To my dismay, however, the headache is continued into the next song, “iMi,” which overall was an unpleasant conglomeration of indistinguishable instruments. A few bits and pieces of the track are pleasant, but these mere moments are overshadowed by the brash sound of the rest. The next track, “We,” takes on a different tone, one I can only describe as “The Emperor’s New Groove” with slight hints of a dark alley in Peru. “We” is an acquired taste at best.

Next up in the album, “Hey, Ma” makes a pleasant appearance. So pleasant a song that I decided to add it to one of my playlists, a choice I almost immediately regretted come the second minute of the song. Fortunately, the unpleasant dissonance only lasts momentarily before the song returns to its soothing, slow melody. A song or two later is “Holyfields.” The song has beautiful vocals, but I’m convinced it was recorded by breaking instruments instead of playing them in an already broken studio. The track “Jerome” follows in suit.

Bon Iver managed to change up the style yet again with the tracks “U (Man Like)” and “Naeem.” These take on a gospel choir tone, with flowing instrumentals and characteristic use of piano. “Naeem” especially brings to the surface hints of jubilant Christmas carols. 

By the time the song “Faith” came around, my ears were weary from trying to make sense of all the noises bombarding me. I thought, for just a moment, that with this track Bon Iver had given up their helter-skelter alternative sound. These were my thoughts (which I had actually written down) until 90 seconds into the song. At this point, the song seems to transition into a movie scene as sporadic sounds of car engines and footsteps intertwine with the melody. I, however, am glad I kept listening because the song eventually did come full circle in a pleasurable and somewhat inspiring way.

Toward the latter half of the album, “Marion” makes an appearance with qualities of a mournful acoustic song, emanating images of walking down an old country road with a broken heart. Additionally the next song, “Salem,” seems as if the song was recorded in an elevator taken over by aliens. Jazzy instrumentals come out in “Sh,Diah,” and to top the album off, “RABi” is surprisingly normal. The track is a slow and laid back tune with a mix of singing and chanting for vocals, a nice fade out of the album.

‘i,i’ is like much modern art. It makes one think “any fool could do that” and listening to it was an adventure, to say the least. This album overall is an acquired taste. A taste that requires a certain love for chaos and odd combinations. I am not fortunate enough to possess that taste, and I cannot say I am disappointed that I do not.