When Bon Iver formed in 2007 under the direction of leadman Justin Vernon, they’ve always been able to exude an eclectic indie spirit. After countless Grammy nods and even two wins in 2012 for their second studio album, the Wisconsin indie-folk band really had nothing to lose in terms of artistic freedom.
Now, as the seven-piece act embarks on their first-ever arena tour later this month, Bon Iver has released their fourth studio album, entitled i,i, three weeks early. The band’s foray into big-rock production seems unlikely given how Justin Vernon just revived Bon Iver with 2016’s 22, A Million, after taking a five-year hiatus cooling off from the superstar limelight.
Yet, as a critically acclaimed LP right out of the gate, i,i only proves that the less effortlessly Bon Iver seeks fame, the more they are destined for it. The album feels improvised and natural, soothing and honest, with Vernon’s organic vocals leading the LP’s experimental tones and synthesized electronic elements. It’s a post-modern statement, a folk/indie-rock/electronic-infused collage as classic instruments collide with computerized sounds, with Vernon standing tall as a guy just pouring himself harmoniously into the moment.
It’s also a callback to the band’s first record with plenty of impressive collaborative appearances, including James Blake, Moses Sumney, Wheezy, and Bruce Hornsby among others. Most of all, it’s a record destined for monumental success come awards season.