Iron & Wine
Kiss Each Other Clean


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
January 29th, 2011 | 73 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beam proves that his feet fit these larger shoes quite well.

Kiss Each Other Clean is the boldest step Iron & Wine has ever taken. Trading in Sam Beam’s trademark acoustic sound for a more multi-faceted approach is bound to come with its share of risks, including the polarization of his ever loyal fan base. He has pushed the boundaries of his music with his major label debut, spurring a transformation towards a style that is completely fresh and, remarkably, every bit as fascinating as his celebrated back catalog. The result is an album unlike anything Iron & Wine has created to date, one that is saturated in a pool of exciting new ideas and musical directions.

Ardent and lush sounding harmonies permeate Iron & Wine's fourth LP. Whereas his prior works remained firmly entrenched in mellow acoustic tunes, Kiss Each Other Clean stimulates each of our senses with an atmosphere that oozes with lazy, tropical instrumentation and that liberally dabbles in electronic effects. “Half Moon” has the aura of a classic oldie, featuring a rhythm that is driven by backing serenades of “do-wop, ba-da” and gentle acoustic strumming. “Godless Brother In Love” has quite possibly the most beautiful bridge vocals of any Iron & Wine song, offering up gorgeous hums and chants with crystal clarity. This is an album that is defined by its combination of breathtaking harmony and atmospheric electronic-pop elements. Whether it is the subtle aquatic feel of “Me and Lazarus” or the heavy jazz vibe that permeates “Big Burned Hand”, Kiss Each Other Clean shows its sonic palette to be both broad and incredibly varied.

Through all of the newfound experimentation and evolution, Iron & Wine is still able to maintain its most captivating quality: the sincere, angelic vocals of Sam Beam. Luckily, one needs not venture far into Kiss Each Other Clean to discover this. “Walking Far From Home” introduces the record with a delectable melody and incredibly memorable chorus, all of which is given depth by prophetic lines such as “I saw blood and a bit of it was mine / I saw children in a river / But their lips were still dry, lips were still dry.” Soon after, Beam bolsters his repertoire with the momentous “Tree By The River”, a mid-tempo ballad driven by a low beat, chimes, acoustic guitars, and plenty of soulful harmonizing. Beam’s voice has undergone something of a transformation, albeit minor, as the whispers and chants of old have been ushered out by the arrival of pristine confidence. On Kiss Each Other Clean, Sam Beam’s voice is at the forefront of the music, dictating its tempo, guiding its sway, and ultimately contributing to the success of the album's other experimental qualities.

While Iron & Wine’s musical progression is successfully and fully realized, it is also the primary reason that old school fans will find Kiss Each Other Clean slightly hollow…perhaps even artificial. The personal touch accompanied by Beam’s acoustic plucking and soft-spoken nature have been largely abandoned for poppy, slightly more mainstream terrain. Part of what has always made Iron & Wine so relatable was the sense of Beam’s emotional proximity, like he was just a stone’s throw away from everything you were feeling. Surely, listeners will take solace in his new messages as well, but the pathway to that relationship is now convoluted by layers of additional instruments, harmonies, and effects that were previously absent when it was just Beam and his guitar that did all of the speaking. Still, Iron & Wine's latest effort shows that Sam Beam is capable of expanding and updating his sound into poppier territory without suffering many ill effects. Kiss Each Other Clean is optimistic, laid back, and almost as personal as his past endeavors. The change in his music is more apparent than ever, and while he may not demonstrate his acoustic folk side quite so well, Beam proves that his feet fit these larger shoes quite well.



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user ratings (225)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
rmill3r (3)
Samuel Beam takes a long, long walk away from home....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2011


16785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm sure I have written better flowing reviews but I just wanted to get my thoughts on this out there. Started as a 3.5 now a solid 4. Everyone should check this out.

Digging: Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Waior
January 29th 2011


11461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Very interesting take on it, sir. Nice write-up

Digging: Hey Rosetta! - Second Sight

cvlts
January 29th 2011


8976 Comments


yeah the transition of the last two paragraphs is kinda abrupt. but an excellent write-up all throughout.

never listened to this guy, but after reading i think i'll give it a shot.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2011


16785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Waior, and yeah Genocide I knew what you meant before you even said anything...maybe I'll try to bridge the two paragraphs better in the next few minutes but I'm really tired haha. I know it's a horrible reason but I just wanted to post this before I went to bed.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2011


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Solid review Sowing; to be honest with you I probably wouldn't have felt that this wasn't one of your best had you not pointed the fact out to me yourself. Still, the review did it's job, and your weaving of a larger theme within the main body of writing was effective.

Ergo - this review was well-written.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

crazyblinddude
January 30th 2011


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Sowing. I'd have to agree with you on many aspects you pointed out on here. Though this has some pretty sick tracks and it's enjoyable overall, to say the least, it wasn't quite at par with his older stuff. Still good though. Maybe it'll grow a bit more with time.

DoubtGin
January 30th 2011


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the live performance was way better.. the energy worked better there

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 30th 2011


7401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're right that it isn't your best flowing review - the last paragraph feels totally detatched from the rest of the review - but it's still a pretty solid one. I got this yesterday so I'll be giving this more listens.

Tyrael
January 30th 2011


20945 Comments


Good review Sowing, the flow is a little weaker than in your other reviews but I can't say it wasn't a pleasant read.

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Photon
January 30th 2011


1292 Comments


need to check this out soon

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2011


16785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

crazyblinddude: i agree this isn't quite as good as his old stuff, but for branching out into a more mainstream sound, this is brilliant. it might grow on you even more, not that a 3.5 is bad by any means...that's what I had it rated for about the first week.

Nagrarok
January 30th 2011


8291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will be listening to this sometime soon - nice review Sowing.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2011


16785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks nagrarok!

AtavanHalen
February 5th 2011


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm only up to Half Moon and this is fucking amazing. Love love love love love this.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2011


16785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I love this too. Just wait til you get to 'Godless Brother In Love'. Pure beauty.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2011


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do you think I would like this SS? Been wanting some new music lately...

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2011


16785 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

youtube 'walking far from home', 'tree by the river' and 'godless brother in love'...should give you a good idea

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2011


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotcha. Thanks man =)

Under the sea, under the seaaaa ~

AtavanHalen
February 6th 2011


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Monkeys Uptown! Monkeys Uptown!

Everyone on Earth needs to hear Monkeys Uptown!

Tyrael
February 6th 2011


20945 Comments


Meh this grew off me...



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