Album Review: Iron and Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

So Iron and Wine return finally with another new album and like the Decemberists it’s only a mere ten tracks. Of course you sit there and wait for a band to put out a new album and you wait forever and bam here it is but its ten tracks and you can’t help but frown because of how short it is. Though the album clocks in at almost 3 quarters of an hour (that’s a nice good forty five minutes) it still leaves you with a taste in your mouth longing for more or you are satisfied. I’m not sure which one it is yet for me so bear with me as we kiss each other clean.
The Track Listing:

  1. Walking Far from Home – 4:46
  2. Me and Lazarus – 3:03
  3. Tree by the River – 3:56
  4. Monkeys Uptown – 3:48
  5. Half Moon – 3:16
  6. Rabbit Will Run – 5:32
  7. Godless Brother in Love – 3:50
  8. Big Burned Hand – 4:14
  9. Glad Man Singing – 4:40
  10. Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me – 7:01

The lead track on this album “Walking Far From Home” is a classic Iron and Wine song. What Sam Beam does is he crafts songs that should be at the end of albums and no where else, at least that’s my take on the situation. The song has the usual slow movement to it that you see in all of his songs but what drives this track like the rest of his work is the strong lyrics. His voice hovers at the same pitch that it always does but there is just something about this song that makes it stand out and make it leave a mark on you for the first song of the album.

The second track is called “Me and Lazarus” it has a jazzy feel to it. With how the bass stands out and maintains this steady easily audible sound. At times through this song though the bass seems to be the dominating sound we get. The lyrics aren’t the greatest as this would be more of a poppier song for Beam but there is nothing wrong with that. As Beam has a way with words that he probably could write a rap song if he really wanted to.  There are several jazzy interludes throughout the song and while it bothers me it really doesn’t seem to fit.

The next track is one I really find myself liking. The beat, the lyrics, the sound. Everything just flows so nicely. It does feel like I am listening to an older track from Beam, but then again it doesn’t seem like he has changed his style at all. This song has the usual lyrical style of the musician but I often wonder what that is. With the electrical guitar riff in the middle of the track it makes a strong separation from old and new style as we rarely see more so hear the electrical instruments mixed in with Beam’s music. The song is entitled “Tree by the River” in case you were wondering.

“Monkeys Uptown” is another solid track on the album. It does borrow some of that jazzy sound from the second track but I feel like it works more since it’s more of a toned down jazzy sound. Take for instance how the Rolling Stones were influenced by the blues and how they developed that sound further into a more rocky blues sound. Yeah same thing here, I really do like the lyrics in this one and so far at the current time this is the best track on the album.

“Half Moon” marks the halfway point of the album as he slows it down a bit. Another song that relies more on lyrics than  anything and it’s not a bad track either. The thing though about this song as with some of the others the guitar is very silent and it’s more of a bass driven song but there isn’t anything really wrong with that as the bass isn’t overpowering as in previous tracks on the album. The female backing vocals add to the strength of the song though, granted they don’t really say anything at all but still it’s not as bad as the second track.

“Rabbit Will Run” wow what a good track, I forgot I was listening to it, like really. Yeah it’s long, it’s mellow but it has that damn jazzy feel to it near the end. What is with Beam and his love for jazz on this record? I don’t mind it as much on this track since it’s real brief but what drives this one is the lyrics, the haunting way  he delivers the words so soothingly yet so hauntingly, it just sends shivers down my spine to the point where I want to curl up in the bed and throw blankets on my head..

“Godless Brother in Love” starts off with a haunting piano before Beam begins to coo the words out in a way that we rarely hear him. The song is driven by a tale of a poor schlum but the piano is the driving factor in this song. You get the feeling that this song would be more near the end of the album as compared to the  other tracks.

Alright so Beam continues to move into a jazzy motion with the eighth track entitled “Big Burned Hand.” Man I am really getting fed up with him moving in this strange new style. I love his folky stuff, his acoustic stuff, but this, this is god awful. I mean lyrically it’s alright, but the sound is one of those annoying songs that annoy me.

The next track slows down the jazz loving thing, “Glad Man Singing” definitely doesn’t feel like Iron and Wine at all and it worries me, is Beam leaving the usual sound he had and going in a more happy electronic jazzy sound? God I hope not. This one feels like a fusion of the rest of the stuff he’s done on the album and prior.

I am so tempted to forgo the last song on the album. Yep. Same as the previous tracks this time with a horn in it. Rocky sounding but more with a jazz vibe. Ugh, I really have to hate on this album but I know Pitchfork is gonna love it, cause you know it’s Pitchfork.

This album has only a couple of good tracks if you are set in your Iron and Wine loving ways, so I give this album and it pains me to do so a meager  5 out of 10.

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About Angerbanjo

As passionate as one can be about certain topics it is hard to make a living with that passion, that being said my passion for nerd culture, modern music and video gaming has yet to translate into anything moderately successful, that and my degree in electronic media, but hey at least I can use that journalism minor. View all posts by Angerbanjo

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