You can imagine my expectations were high, but nothing could have prepared me for this. 22, A Million, Bon Iver's third album, showcases Justin Vernon's stunning vocal and musical range.
Listening to this album start to finish is truly an experience and what better way to take it all in than chowing down while you listen? Try out some of these song-food pairings to fully immerse yourself in all of Bon Iver's wonderfulness.
#SpoonTip: Yes, the song titles are unique enough that I actually had to copy and paste them directly from iTunes.
22 (OVER S∞∞N)
What to Eat: Baked Apple with Cinnamon and Honey
This is Justin Vernon at his best. The track hits you right in the feels with notes of nostalgia and smooth vocals without taking on a tone that's too dark or sad.
Pairing 22 (OVER S∞∞N) with a warm, baked apple will get you in the mood to curl up with a good book and marvel at the wonders of life.Thoughts while listening: Good thing this album isn't over soon.
10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄What to Eat: Garbage Salad
Bon Iver threw everything into this track—wood blocks, drums, autotune, synth, sax, a Stevie Nicks sample—creating a mish-mosh of sounds that somehow works. Much like garbage salad, "10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄" is generally confusing, but in a really enticing way.
Thoughts while listening: With a little remix magic, I could rave to this song at a party.
715 - CR∑∑KS
What to Eat: The Beyond Burger
A bit of auto-tune overkill if you ask me. Bon Iver clearly draws inspiration from Kanye here, but as Yeezy would say: only Kanye can do Kanye best. Similarly, The Beyond Burger may taste good, but wouldn't you rather just have the real thing?
Important side note: I do appreciate a good Bon Iver-Kanye West collaboration, though.
What to Eat: Dark Chocolate with Chilli
This track is beautifully indecisive, just like dark chocolate with chilli—the perfect combo of sugar and spice. The tone of the song oscillates nicely between head-banging and minimalistic, and the drum hits add a kick of spunk previously uncharacteristic of Bon Iver.
Thoughts while listening: The little martian voices are everything, but will also probably haunt me in my dreams.
29 #Strafford APTS
What to Eat: S'mores
With its twinges of country music and the crooning voice on the word "canonize," this song just reminds me of roasting s'mores by a fire on a starry night.
Best lyric IMO: "You've buried all your alimony butterflies."
What to Eat: See's Candy Milk California Brittle
The technologic note-pattern that plays in the background throughout this song reminds me of a mix of "Hotline Bling" and LCD Soundsystem. Add in the triumphant, marching band-like drum hits, and "666 ʇ" has a tough and rigid backdrop.
Meanwhile, you still have Justin Vernon's melty lyrics coating over the top. Hence, it pairs perfectly with See's Candy milk-chocolate-covered toffee brittle: soft on the outside, crunchy on the inside.
21 M◊◊N WATER
What to Eat: Pop Rocks
The opening minutes are filled with lulling and almost galactic sounds. As the song progresses, it begins to feel more and more like the rewinding of time, plus a hint of robotic disco (cue the "beeps" and the "bops"). The song culminates in what sounds like a spaceship preparing to take off.
The burst of the Pop Rocks and the outerspace-like quality of this track will take you to the moon.
What to Eat: Butternut Squash Soup
In this 5-minute John Mayer-esque song, Vernon showcases the beauty of his voice without the guise of autotune. "8(circle)" is warm, mood-boosting and classic, but with a twist—just like a nice bowl of butternut squash soup.
Bonus to this track (and food pairing) for giving off major fall vibes complementary to the recently changing weather.
Best lyric IMO: "We've galvanized at the squall of it all."
What to Eat: Seven-Layer Dip
Wait a minute. Is that really Justin Vernon singing at the beginning? Regardless, I like it. There's an interesting distorted trumpet playing throughout. It's definitely cool, but it can be a little distracting and offputting at times.
Much like seven-layer dip, this song has a lot to offer and while each of its components are individually great, when put together, it's a little too much to handle.
Thoughts while listening: OMG, there's banjo in this song!
What to Eat: Raspberry & Basil Sorbet
This ballad-y, contemplative tune finds Bon Iver at its best. It's the perfect palate cleanser for the end of an album—refreshing, light, and simple—much like raspberry and basil sorbet.
Best lyric IMO: "A word about Gnosis: it ain't gonna buy the groceries.
22, A Million demonstrates Bon Iver's ability to make me want to cry and love life all at the same time. Better yet, it leaves me hungry for more (even after eating my way through the whole thing).
FOLK YEAH! For more on the album's inspiration, check out this article from The Current.