james debate
james debate

Friday 8 April 2011

Genre Alternative
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Brian Deck
Release Date Out Now

iron and wine kiss each other clean

Kiss Each Other Clean is the most recent addition to Iron and Wine's increasingly adventurous catalogue of albums. Sam Beam continues the band's reinvention from placid acoustic folk to creative, ambitious soundscape, and the end product is the broadest and most accomplished work he's yet produced.

Despite the evolution, this is still the same Iron and Wine; the album flows with typically warm and delicate hues and the lingering vocals strike a sweet note. But the lush full band backing adds unexpected layers and offbeat filters to their characteristic sound, achieving a fresh tone that rightly straddles the boundary of their established range.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the first track with the simmering and soulful Walking Far From Home. This is probably the best example on the album of filter effects being applied, crafting what is a dreamy and serene tune.

One of the better songs on the album is Tree By the River, one of the poppier numbers the band has produced and undeniably catchy. A perfect summer song elicits a tangible glow and evokes notions of sleepy, youthful days in the park.

Softly spoken repose proceeds in Half Moon with the addition of doo-wop ladies and typically low-fi pep.

Godless Brother in Love, meanwhile, takes the album in a more fragile and pensive direction, returning to the milieu of sensitive folk that Iron and Wine is better known for, with a hint of Don McLean, pulling off one of Beam's finer vocal performances.

For all the quirky and interesting sounds the album often feels like an unfocused affair, mingling with shared thematics and experimenting with genres, but with little overall sense of unity. With the exception of the bookending first and last tracks, the entire core of the album could easily be shuffled at whim and no one would ever notice.

A fine album indeed, and with the summer months approaching, this will make a fine soundtrack for lounging in the sun.

Must Listen
Tree By the River

Walking Far From Home

Half Moon

Godless Brother In Love

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