Bon Iver is a group that was instrumental in the regrowth of folk/experimental folk back in the late 00’s/2010 period. They really injected artistry and complexity back into the charts with some of the most thought-provoking and haunting tracks of all time. ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ will always remain one of my favourite albums of all time with songs like ‘Flume’ and ‘Blindsided’ reducing me to a mess just merely listening to it. The lyrical content was masterful, the instrumentation articulate and mesmerising, the vocal delivery meaningful and passionate; every song was a master stroke. Since then an EP and an album has been produced, still with that same musical intensity that kept me grasped in awe. It was fair to say that anything Bon Iver produced, I fell in love with.
That was until some of his new tracks dropped… I felt myself being played to condescendingly and it aggravated me; either it made me feel inadequate because I was missing something or incomplete as a listener. So I waited and waited, waiting for a track to come along and click for me to fall in love with, in fact I expected it to say the least. So going into ‘666 ʇ’ was I expecting much? Well yeah, a lot.
Let me tell you something about this track… I hated it. Every single aspect, I hated and hated profoundly to say the least. The instrumentation was poorly mixed and lifeless, the vocals sporadic and desperate and the lyrics downright pretentious. The song yet again aggravated me, but this time more seriously. The structure was non-existent and being a prog fan, that doesn’t bother me, but it was wholesomely unnecessary. It had no beat, no pulse, no movement, it was static and yawn inducing. There were no catchy phrases both instrumentally and vocally, no areas of conscious development, no moments of any noteworthy value. The song sounded like a long, high-pitched whale fart. If the synths were played inside a cathedral, inside of another bigger cathedral, there still wouldn’t be as much reverb as there was on this track. It felt like every note was being sang through a rusty, old pipe into a walkie-talkie and don’t give me that bulls*** excuse of “you just don’t understand” or “they meant to do that, it’s called art”, NO, it’s just terrible mixing. You can also rave and say “But that’s how their older stuff sounded and how all his tracks sound” and you know what, you’d be right. But back then it had meaning and real substance. It was paired with emotional delivery and musical competence back then NOT theoretical garbage and wannabe, technical w***ery. This track tells me one thing “We are better than you”, and that’s not what I want to be told listening to a song.
The lines repeated, bashing you over the head with philosophical trash only further my disdain. It’s like Bon Iver listened to one Kraftwerk track and thought, “We can do this better, and Justin can sing higher” but NO, NO YOU CAN’T, but you can sing higher but that isn’t an accolade when it comes to this song. Gosh this track infuriated me. What irritated me further, were the fans that commented on it. Now don’t get me wrong, music is subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a d*** to those that disagree. Comments like, “It’s not for broader appeal Fuck the fashion of it, dear” and, “This will be one of those bands you know you’re still gonna listen to 40 years from now”, just left me utterly stumped. If someone has to tell you why you’re not enjoying it and explain to you why you’re not capable of enjoying it, then they’re the one/one’s in the wrong. I don’t listen to a song and think, “in fifty years I might like this track”, again NO, I want to like this track now and I want to like it for the next fifty years. I don’t have to be told why I don’t like a song before I’m listening to it, that’s just your fanboy attitude trying to limit the damage before the song can do it. To say that Bon Iver aren’t following what is trending is all a load of bulls*** too, the group have collaborated multiple times with Kanye West this year for goodness sake! He practically is the meaning of the word ‘trend’! Can you imagine the musical ego’s and arrogance in that room? It’s genuinely a scary thought.
Bon Iver have been the biggest musical letdown of the year for me, nay, the decade, with no redeeming factors from bar to bar and perhaps the most irritating song I have ever listened to.
1/10 – The worst track I have listened to thus far this year and the first ever 1/10 rating to ever appear on the site.