Bon Iver: Hey, Ma / U (Man Like) - Track Review

Justin Vernon is as obsessed with Kanye and 80s power-pop as ever before.

In their 3 year recording absence, Bon Iver haven’t done much growing up. The group, still fronted and masterminded by Justin Vernon, continue to write incredibly catchy pop songs that they obfuscate with vocoder/synths/abstract instrumentation. “Hey Ma” is the best of the two singles, calling on the delicate tension of 22, A Million highlight “8 (Circle),” but “U (Man Like)” presents a new addition to the traditional sound. Rollicking pianos remind of Vernon’s recent Big Red Machine, and a slick melody featuring Moses Sumney makes for a bright spot in an otherwise un-ambitious track. Vernon’s falsetto is more grating than usual, which has often been a trick to draw attention away from vocals and on to instrumentation, but “U (Man Like)” is bare bones. The one-two punch of in-character ballad and chilled-out pop song is curious, but effective enough as a teaser to what’s likely to be Bon Iver’s most crowded release yet.

Listen to “Hey, Ma” and “U (Man Like)”