Bon Iver, 33 “GOD”

Following just hours after the first leak of Bon Iver’s upcoming release 22, A Million hit the internet, the artist has dropped an official lyric video for hotly anticipated “33 “GOD”. After Vernon premiered the new material live at his Eaux Claire festival earlier in August, there was speculation of a Kanye West feature on this track. There is a pitched-down collaborator on ’33 “GOD”’, but instead of Yeezy, it features a smartly sampled Paolo Nutini and his song “Iron Sky.” The song begins with somber piano, the rhythm of which providing the only form as strings, chipmunk’ed vocals, and other indistinguishable feedback swim in a nebulous around it. The piano is soon joined by subtle banjo, already creating a juxtaposition of acoustic and electronic textures not unlike a Sufjan Stevens Age of Adz cut. The instrumentation gathers the slightest tension until it explodes into chorus. A Yeezus-era sub bass slithers in legato, as drums come crashing like the lightning of the song’s video. It feels cinematic in the way West’s work does, perpetually climatic, which crystalizes Vernon’s theme here of divinity. The lyrics are…ambiguous- presumably religious, but unquestionably intimate. It’s a song teeming with a lot of ideas and textures, but distilled to something beautiful. It may make fans of Bon Iver’s previous output uncomfortable, but just as Vernon addresses his subject, “This is how we grow now.”