Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (The National) have made good on their recent teasers by announcing their second album as Big Red Machine, How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, out Aug. 27 via their own 37d03d label. Produced by Dessner at his Long Pond studio in upstate New York, the album features collaborations with Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, Sharon Van Etten and Taylor Swift, among others. It’s Anaïs Mitchell who’s featured on lovely lead single and album opener “Latter Days,” out now.
Written and performed by Vernon, Dessner and Mitchell, and recorded during early Long Pond sessions, “Latter Days” is a somber and sentimental number driven by pretty piano, distant horns, a deceptively propulsive drum groove (courtesy of Big Thief’s James Krivchenia), and Vernon and Mitchell’s vocal harmonies. The singers trade nostalgic verses, looking back on times gone by with aching wistfulness, yet not the faintest hint of emotional string-pulling—its rosy glow feels real and lived-in. “I recall it all forever / How it found us where we lay,” Vernon and Mitchell harmonize, “With our arms around each other / In the latter days, in the latter days.”
Dessner recalls of the song’s creation, “It was clear to Anaïs that the early sketch Justin and I made of ‘Latter Days’ was about childhood, or loss of innocence and nostalgia for a time before you’ve grown into adulthood—before you’ve hurt people or lost people and made mistakes. She defined the whole record when she sang that, as these same themes kept appearing again and again.”
Collaboration is key to How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?: In addition to the aforementioned Pecknold on “Phoenix,” Van Etten on “Hutch” (a tribute to late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison) and Swift on “Birch” and “Renegade,” the album features Ben Howard and This Is The Kit (“June’s a River”), Naeem (“Easy to Sabotage”), and Lisa Hannigan and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Nova (also on “Hutch”). Bryce Dessner, Aaron’s brother and The National bandmate, provides orchestration, as well.
How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? follows Big Red Machine’s self-titled full-length debut, which Paste ranked among the best records of 2018.
Watch the “Latter Days” lyric video below and see the details of How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? further down, beneath Bon Iver and The National performances from the Paste archives. You can preorder the record right here.
How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? Tracklist:
01. Latter Days (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)
03. Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell)
04. Birch (feat. Taylor Swift)
05. Renegade (feat. Taylor Swift)
06. The Ghost of Cincinnati
07. Hoping Then
08. Mimi (feat. Ilsey)
09. Easy to Sabotage (feat. Naeem)
10. Hutch (feat. Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, and Shara Nova [My Brightest Diamond])
11. 8:22am (feat. La Force)
13. June’s a River (feat. Ben Howard and This Is The Kit)
15. New Auburn (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)
How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? Album Art: