Bon Iver hit the stage at the Eaux Claires Festival (put on by band frontman Justin Vernon) on Friday night, where they played a set of entirely new music, according to press accounts. But that was far from the only notable Bon Iver-related event of the night. As the band was onstage, a press release was sent out announcing that their first new album in five years would be released in just a few weeks. And those new songs they were playing? That was their new album, in full.
The record, to be called 22, A Million, will be released September 30 on Jagjaguwar. The press release explains a bit about the record’s sound.
22, A Million is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self-understanding like a religion. And the inner-resolution of maybe never finding that understanding. The album’s 10 poly-fi recordings are a collection of sacred moments, love’s torment and salvation, contexts of intense memories, signs that you can pin meaning onto or disregard as coincidence. If Bon Iver, Bon Iver built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then 22, A Million is the letting go of that attachment to a place.
The “22” of the record’s title, according to a bio by Vernon’s collaborator and friend Trever Hagen, refers to the singer himself.
22 stands for Justin. The number’s recurrence in his life has become a meaningful pattern through encounter and recognition. A mile marker, a jersey number, a bill total. The reflection of ‘2’ is his identity bound up in duality: the relationship he has with himself and the relationship he has with the rest of the world. A Million is the rest of that world: the millions of people who we will never know, the infinite and endless, everything outside one’s self that makes you who you are. This other side of Justin’s duality is the thing that completes him and what he searches for.
In addition to announcing the record’s impending release, Bon Iver released two songs from it, “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” and “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄,” which you can hear below. You can pre-order 22, A Million here.