Iron & Wine | Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Brothers)

The album, on this song in particular, sounds very much like Beam’s recent live performances and creates a sense of "jammy" collaboration that’s a logical extension of the previous record.

 
Over the past decade Sam Beam’s ‘avant-folk icon’ personage has evolved ever-so-slightly with each new offering. Melting one record into the next, Beam is subtly reinventing himself over the span of a few albums. Such is the case with his recent major-label debut, Kiss Each Other Clean; it is unrecognizable compared the Beam of years past (a la Creek Drank the Cradle), but flows nicely as an extension the work he started with Shepard’s Dog.
 
Kiss Each Other Clean takes the eclecticism and fuzzy guitars from Shepard’s Dog and adds layers of funky saxophone and groovy bass lines. “Saxophones?” you might ask. Yes, glorious, glorious saxophones. There are also plenty of organ licks and glossy backup vocals coating almost every chorus, giving these songs an almost anthem-like vibe at times. The percussion is similar to that of Shepard’s Dog, but is taken to new levels, with a crazy amount of auxiliary percussion added to almost every song. A mid-album track, "Rabbit Will Run," features gorgeous layers of whistles, wood blocks and vibraphones over a plucked thumb-piano. The album, on this song in particular, sounds very much like Beam’s recent live performances and creates a sense of "jammy" collaboration that’s a logical extension of the previous record.
 
The album closer, titled “Your Fake Name is Good Enough for Me,” is a remarkable song that takes an amazing turn half way through. Catchy horn melodies morph into an ever-quickening breakdown, where Beam chants a mantra-like chorus that starts slow-and-sweet but takes on an adversarial tone by the song’s end, with Beam crooning, “Become, the target and the gun. We will become, become…”
 
Kiss Each Other Clean isn’t a major departure from Beam’s recent work, but it is one more notch in the bedpost of his evolution from the timid college professor who launched an army of DIY bedroom singer/songwriters, to indie-folk hero. The collage of eclectic percussion, strong melodies and even stronger lyrics is everything we’ve grown to love about the bearded maestro, and is executed perfectly here. A | Glen Elkins

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