’22, A Million’ reviews: Bon Iver stages last-minute Grammy ambush with ’emotionally expansive’ album

Bon Iver lead singer Julian Vernon seemed as surprised as anyone that he won two Grammys in 2011: Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album (“Bon Iver”). Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood handed him his trophy and he said, “I’m a little bit uncomfortable up here.” Cut to five years later and Bon Iver has finally released their follow-up album, “22, A Million” — on September 30, the very last day of the Grammy eligibility period. So either Vernon has become more savvy, or the universe is playing another trick on him.

The good news for Bon Iver is that their latest was worth the wait according to critics; “22, A Million” has scored 85 on MetaCritic. The reviews indicate an evolved style from the group: less old-school Americana and more driven by electronic sounds, difficult to engage with but worth the effort.

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What do you think? Check out some of the reviews below, and click here to discuss this album and more in our forums.

Jeremy Gordon (Spin): “’22, A Million’ pushes forward as only an artist could. It’s a weirder record, foregrounded with decayed, pulsating electronics, warped vocals, and instruments invented by Vernon and his friends. Paranoia and claustrophobia shade the sound, but it’s still territorially and emotionally expansive—a night-time detour through unknown and welcoming land.”

Alexis Petridis (The Guardian): “There’s no arguing that exactly what he’s driving at here is often hard to divine. But one of the points ’22, A Million’ may be trying to make is that you don’t necessarily have to understand music to enjoy or be moved by it. If that’s the case, then it’s an unequivocal success.”

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Ben Newman (Slant): “Vernon has carefully alchemised sounds that have the potential to become volatile when mixed, but somehow they remain stable. Radically opposing styles are reconciled until they become mutually beneficial to each other and the song itself.”

Will Hermes (Rolling Stone): “With his long-awaited third album, Vernon completely breaks from his guitar-hugging persona, leaving it in the woods like a Coen brothers corpse as he flexes a mastery of processed vocals, samples, loops, beats, synths and noise, along with more familiar trappings. The results place him alongside pop’s top futurists.”

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