Albums to watch

i, i

Bon Iver

i, i

Fourth album from the American indie/folk band fronted by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon featuring contributions from James Blake, Aaron Dessner, Bruce Hornsby and more

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  1. 10.0 |   NME

    Previous Bon Iver albums worked through the seasons, the hushed 'For Emma, Forever Ago’ representing winter. With 'i, i', Justin Vernon arrives at autumn, a time of change
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  2. 10.0 |   DIY

    An emotional tour-de-force that displays an unparalleled understanding of the power of music
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  3. 10.0 |   The Observer

    Listen closely and you can hear the language of pop being redrafted in real time
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  4. 10.0 |   Consequence Of Sound

    A mature masterpiece and a stunning marriage of ambition and technique
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  5. 9.1 |   Gig Soup

    Make a point to check yourself into the listening room of Bon Iver and think about the coming fall, how to be kind, have some faith, and embrace the changing seasons
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  6. 9.0 |   Uncut

    As stylistically adventurous and technologically innovative as the album is, this community of musicians ensures it remains accessible and soulful. Print edition only

  7. 9.0 |   American Songwriter

    Even as Vernon and his cast of thousands get further and further from the relatively simple, backwoods folkie sound that originally brought him to the forefront, he is making music that, far from being strange, is actually as inviting as anything he has ever done
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  8. 9.0 |   Exclaim

    This record isn't as immediate as other Bon Iver works; it takes a little longer to reveal itself and fully take shape. But given the time to settle into the mind, it's rich and endlessly rewarding
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  9. 9.0 |   The Music

    No matter the axial tilt, Vernon has charted new territory as Bon Iver
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  10. 9.0 |   Loud And Quiet

    Brimming with the youthful curiosity that could slot into any moment of Bon Iver’s three-album past
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  11. 8.8 |   Pitchfork

    On his fourth album, Justin Vernon reassembles the familiar Bon Iver elements like a cubist collage, with his voice fearlessly front and center. The result is his most honest and forthright music ever
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  12. 8.7 |   Earbuddy

    Vernon sells the audience on emotion alone. And he packs i,i full of it
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  13. 8.5 |   Northern Transmission

    It would seem Vernon and co are completely untethered from pressures and barriers; ‘i,i’ is the true sound of creative freedom
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  14. 8.2 |   Sputnik Music (staff)

    Justin Vernon may be uniquely talented in mixing disparate sounds into one package, but he can only do so by burning some bridges and salting the earth as he goes – leaving previous selves behind him on the way
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  15. 8.0 |   The Arts Desk

    Much of the album harks back to the dreamy, solitary nature of "For Emma"
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  16. 8.0 |   Clash

    A cycle that opened ten years ago has closed. And the concluding chapter is a world away from its beginnings – brimming with ideas, textures and the creative heft of its contributing cast
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  17. 8.0 |   Slant Magazine

    Finds Justin Vernon creeping into an autumnal melancholy and turning his gaze back toward winter
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  18. 8.0 |   Spectrum Culture

    What was once a sparse, folk endeavor has essentially become a massive, genre-fluid music collective
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  19. 8.0 |   No Ripcord

    If 22, A Million could come off as sometimes cold and always anxious, then i,i is the warm flipside, with songs that float and flutter, that call for resilience rather than resignation
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  20. 8.0 |   Mojo

    Bleeding-edge sonics you can hum along to. Print edition only

  21. 8.0 |   Tiny Mix Tapes

    Whatever inspiration drove its creation, it’s good to hear joy crack through despair like lightning, even if whatever’s up there’s as dead as fall
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  22. 8.0 |   Q

    Vernon is an expert in curating his emotions. Print edition only

  23. 7.9 |   Paste Magazine

    An album that is objectively dazzling, but not always easy to love
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  24. 7.0 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    This is an album that you can feel as well as experience, perhaps the most complete Bon Iver album to date
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  25. 7.0 |   Rolling Stone

    Conjuring dread and hopefulness, Justin Vernon blends electronic and acoustic elements into a soulful, kaleidoscopic whole
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  26. 7.0 |   Under The Radar

    The most successful songs on i,i are those that bury the soundscapes behind the vocals, and not the other way around
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  27. 6.0 |   PopMatters

    Justin Vernon's (Bon Iver) lyricism is as cryptic as ever, but the firmness with which he sings his abstractions robs his fourth album of much of its mystery
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  28. 6.0 |   The Irish Times

    Those prone to hyperbole have already erroneously declared him as a visionary, a legend of his time. For everyone else, it’s going to take a bit more convincing than this album
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  29. 6.0 |   The Independent

    Justin Vernon’s dreamy, genre-less music collective returns, with an exquisite album that is otherwise frustratingly apolitical
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  30. 6.0 |   The 405

    For the first time, Bon Iver have produced an album seemingly without stakes. There is no grand intent, no new, lofty goal. The band are simply gathered and doing the things they know well. At times, this can work in i,i’s favor. However, for a band known to astound, it can feel a bit limited and complacent
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  31. 5.0 |   music OMH

    Not all music this sincere has to be this dull
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  32. 5.0 |   The Quietus

    There is something desperately sad about the sound of an important artist losing their footing. Ostensibly much is the same, all the familiar pieces are in place, and yet something fundamental is missing; an animating force reorientating and reordering individual elements to articulate them as more than the sum of their parts
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  33. 5.0 |   All Music

    It's clear after four albums that the best Bon Iver is the one that manages to keep the arrangements in check and doesn't swing for the fences. I,I takes many mighty swings and at best knocks out a few infield hits, while striking out far too often
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  34. 4.0 |   The Guardian

    Justin Vernon has been building Bon Iver into an artistic commune of shared ideals – but loses his way in a fog of weak melodies and bad poetry
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