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Bon Iver's 4 Seasons

Our favorite Wisconsinite brings a cycle of albums to its close.

By Alexis Renaudat | Video of the Day | August 12, 2019

“There’s similarities and tributaries through all the Bon Iver records leading to this one and that still flow through this one. It’s an expansive sound”. This is how Justin Vernon, the driving force behind Bon Iver, defines his fourth studio album. 12 years of his life have passed, during which his project went from the wintry solitude of For Emma, Forever Ago, to the chamber-pop spring of its eponymous record, to the feverish summer glitch storm of 22, A Million. This fourth season didn’t come easy, either. The promotional tour for the aforementioned third album ended abruptly, due to Vernon’s struggle with anxiety and depression. i,i was created in that aftermath, as a synthesis of his career – a multi-layered autumn where sonic landscapes flow one into the other, and impressionistic instrumentals, glitchy samples and vocal harmonies pile on top of each other seamlessly, before being torn away to reveal the bare bones canvas lying beneath.

This retrospective approach to his music is interlaced with cryptic lyrics that seem to ponder Vernon’s misanthropic tendencies: “I should've known / That I shouldn't hide/ To compromise and to covet/ All what’s inside “ he mourns on the electro-folk crescendo of Faith, undercut by growling bass and haunting background vocals. On the album closer RABi, which is a play on the words “I could rob, bye bye”, Bon Iver seems to find peace at last, in a side nod to listeners: “Sun light feels good now, don't it? And I don't have a leaving plan/ But something's gotta ease your mind/ But it's all fine, or it's all crime anyway “. It’s a cathartic finish, for a troubled artist who seems to have temporarily fought off his demons, as well as the audience – we who’ve followed him and applauded him since the beginning. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz

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