Music

Bon Iver - 33 "GOD" (Singles Going Steady)

33 "GOD" continues to make us believe that Bon Iver may be dropping one of the best albums of 2016.

Michael Pementel: So far everything from 22, A Million has been straight fire. 33 "GOD" continues to make me believe that Bon Iver may be dropping one of the best albums of 2016. Instrumentally, this track knows when to start slow, keep this settling, and then kick in for a powerful chorus with sunshine rings and drums. Iver's voice is the beauty we've come to know and love, and "GOD" in particular captures some poetic lyricism. The only thing I wish was that this song was longer so I could enjoy it even more. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: An undercurrent of calm to another installment of chaos makes this the most eerie of the singles released so far from Bon Iver's upcoming album. The peaceful piano melody behind all the intermittent storms of percussion sounds more like mourning than optimism, while bold vocal harmonies muster up the strength to move forward. As YouTube's comments section proves, though, all this alien beauty may go unnoticed by many, as the video buries the song beneath Illuminati symbolism, among other things. Have at it, Internet, but don't forget to listen. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: Another oddball song (and video) from Justin Vernon's oddball new album, the basic skeleton of what makes him so great is still present, it's just adorned with unusual instrumentation. Vernon's singing is flawless, intimate and achingly emotional, and the bleeps, vocoders and synth blasts simply push the song deeper into another stratosphere without seeming distracting or out-of-place. A refreshing change of pace from someone who was already pretty great. [8/10]

Scott Zuppardo: I'll go on record as saying I do not understand the obsession with Justin Vernon's falsetto driven indie folk. It's loaded in artistic capacity, but for me I can't find the beginning, middle, or end. I'm always waiting for something to happen and then I finally just say, "that's what wins Grammy's!?!" One thing I do love is God, and this song can steadily grow on you. It's not lacking in creative layers and conceptions but just may be over this lo-fi garage, punk, blues addict's head. The greatest #33 was Larry Bird. This song gets me all turned around inside. [5/10]

Dan Kok: Gone are the days of Bon Iver's initial fame as indie folk's soft, sad darlings. 22, A Million looks to be a bold and deeply experimental venture. 33 "GOD" retains some of the trappings of the group's roots starting with delicate piano chords and Justin Vernon's signature falsetto weaving a tender melody, but at the one-minute, 15-second mark, the sound begins to descend into deep, rumbling synths, eerie doubled vocals, and noisy accents. The song is punctuated with warped samples and Justin Vernon's song writing is rich with meaning both abstract and direct. It's a sign of a brilliant and adventurous musical group reaching yet another peak. September 30 can't arrive soon enough. [9/10]

Jared Skinner: In a recent press conference, Justin Vernon said of his upcoming Bon Iver album, "I think it’s that thing of wanting to bash things apart a little bit and break through some stuff. And I needed it to sound a little radical to feel good about putting something out in the world." Bon Iver's new song 33 "GOD", along with two other singles that have been released in anticipation of 22, A Million are exercises in experimentation and beauty, and a sign of an artist's comfort in venturing outside his own comfort zone. Vernon and company again manage to capture the power of intense and personal memories, with each line echoing familiar scenes for every listener, converging on the edge of archetypes, while still remaining as cryptic as the symbols that are scattered throughout the video. The lyrics, often simple, meditative and even Haiku-like, float around similarly familiar melody lines and instruments whilst also treading through new sonic territory. The summation of these many parts makes for an ultimately tricky, contemplative and sublime journey. [8/10]

Christopher Laird: What an ascendant piece of work. It’s shell is another glitchy beat mostly similar to the other work from the upcoming album. This one is a little closer to the work on the self-titled album because Justin’s Vernon’s voice, which is the reason we all keep coming back anyhow, gets a little more room to breathe without interruptions. The lyrics are abstract as always, but when Vernon says, “I could go forward in the night. Well I better fold my clothes", something just clicks and it all makes sense. I can see this album being the sound of Fall 2016. [8/10]

Andrew Paschal: I was beginning to think that Justin Vernon had disappeared down a self-indulgent rabbit hole with Bon Iver's new material, and that the band's most ardent disciples had perhaps partaken a little too much in the Kool-Aid. I have to admit that his ambition really pays off with this one, though. The piano motif is gorgeous and poignant, drawing in the listener and inducing a somber nostalgia. However, any sense of stillness or repose is quickly disrupted by booming, clattering beats and the echoing of ghostly, digitized voices, storming in like unsorted thoughts and threatening to pull Vernon out of his plaintive reverie. He hangs on nonetheless, calmly directing the song through the turbulent waves backwards through memory. "33 'GOD'" makes a strong case for Bon Iver's recent change in musical direction and makes a far larger statement than simply, "I'm going to make weird electronic music now", which for a moment looked like it could be all Bon Iver had to say. Thankfully, here they reach far higher and produce something far more profound. [9/10]

Max Totsky: It’s becoming easier and easier to crack exactly what Justin Vernon and company are trying to do with their upcoming 22, A Million album and its a direction that makes complete sense. Their past two records, both of which are pretty much indisputable modern landmarks, kept their experimental edge behind layers of breathtaking, ornate conventional beauty while every song that has surfaced from their new album appears to swap the two. Samples wriggle around like the never have before, the percussion is typically abstract and industrial, and vocal effects are their own instrument. 33 “GOD”’ is the most mortal of the bunch, placing its focus of Vernon’s signature falsetto which appears here with just as much vibrance as once could really expect. The climaxes are clear-cut and euphoric, and the piano can’t seem to decide between being pristine or hardly tangible. Simply put, this track keeps in line with the utter weirdness of everything else that has been part of the build-up to this new record; it’s just a lot more grounded, which is comforting to hear from a project that might be getting close to excessive indulgence in exciting experimentation but continue to shred the boundaries without sacrificing the meat of their appeal. [8/10]

Landon MacDonald: The somehow compelling sound of beauty rotting; if For Emma was memories in slow motion, 22, A Million is thoughts in fast forward. Ideas rush so past at such a speed, you don’t have a moment to decide if you like them. "33" is to Bon Iver what "Optimistic" was to Kid A, a song that recalls the style of the band but has a new delivery vehicle, disintegration. For progressive Bon Iver fans, this is a dream come true. [9/10]

SCORE: 8.10

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