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Bon Iver Announces A New Album, Releases Another Pair Of Songs

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.
Graham Tolbert & Crystal Quinn
Courtesy of the artist
Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.

Last month, Bon Iver released a pair of new songs — "Hey Ma" and "U (Man Like)" — with little context to surround them. Last week, it posted a characteristically cryptic minute-long trailer for... well, something, in the process suggesting the completion of some kind of seasonal cycle. Today, we have our answer: Justin Vernon and his band will release their fourth album (titled i,i) on August 30.

Bon Iver's intensely beloved debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, was (by definition) a winter album; Vernon famously recorded it while secluded in a Wisconsin cabin and released it nationally in February 2008. Bon Iver came out in the spring of 2011 and symbolized rebirth, while the digitally fried 22, A Million followed in the sun-blasted summer of 2016. It's no accident that i,i will land around the beginning of fall.

"It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete," Vernon writes in announcing i,i. "It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work."

The album will feature a sprawling cast of Bon Iver's players, frequent collaborators and friends, including Moses Sumney, Bruce Hornsby, James Blake, Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, The National's Bryce and Aaron Dessner, Channy Leaneagh from Poliça and more. Recorded in a pair of comfort zones — the band's April Base studio in Wisconsin, followed by a weeks-long run in West Texas — i,i is meant to evoke a sense of contentment, though some of its meanings will naturally remain a bit opaque.

"The title of the record can mean whatever it means to you or me," Vernon writes. "It can mean deciphering and bolstering one's identity. It can be how important the self is and how unimportant the self is, how we're all connected."

Naturally, the song titles are a bit of a Bon Iver-ian jumble.

i,i comes out August 30 via Jagjaguwar. Album artwork and full track list below:


1. Yi
2. iMi
3. We
4. Holyfields,
5. Hey, Ma
6. U (Man Like)
7. Naeem
8. Jelmore
9. Faith
10. Marion
11. Salem
12. Sh'Diah
13. RABi

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)