Lead singer Sam Beam strays a bit from his super-mellow folk style and uses a more pop-based sound in his newest album in almost four years, trying for a louder, faster-paced style on his new project without delivering anything substantial.
Any high expectations for new Iron and Wine material aren’t met. In fact, “Kiss Each Other Clean” doesn’t really even sound like it comes from the same artist.
Beam attempts several different genres throughout the 10 tracks on the album, and doesn’t do well for the majority of them. With a variety of mediocre attempts at pop-inspired versions of multiple styles, Beam doesn’t match his high quality older work.
Many of the songs are anticlimactic and don’t have much of a high point or variation throughout the track. Beam attempts a mellow rock sound on “Walking Far From Home.” The repetitiveness makes for a boring and—at times—annoying four and a half minutes.
“Tree By the River” proves that Beam shouldn’t venture too far from his roots. Using a more upbeat version of his previous work, it’s the only track that is really worth listening to on the album. However, not much sense can be made of the lyrics: “Now I’m asleep in a car / I mean the world / To a potty-mouth girl / A pretty pair of blue-eyed birds.” While Beam may be known for his illustrative imagery in songs, the lyrics in “Tree By the River” come off as forced and confusing.
“Half Moon” is the one track that stays close to previous albums. But with its slightly country style and irrelevant “doo-whop-mmm-bop-bops,” it’s still sub-par.
Just about every song is a passable, average-sounding pop version of Beam’s previous sound. “Rabbit Will Run” turns a bit painful closing out with a somewhat unmelodic and seemingly misplaced flute solo, trading an artistic sound for something simply silly.
The funky “Big Burned Hand” is an odd combination of styles and sounds. With the addition of an overly simplistic piano solo, it’s a little difficult to listen to. Under the weak instrumentals hide some decent, metaphorical lyrics: “When the gun-shy goddess of love came back to patch things up / She had a Purple Heart and mother’s milk in a plastic cup.”
Beam’s attempt at a more popular style doesn’t sound much like any previous Iron and Wine work and “Kiss Each Other Clean” offers very few ballad-like songs that fans are used to. His whispery, lullaby-like voice doesn’t mesh well with the pop base he’s working from.
Previous Iron and Wine albums have been top-notch in the field of folk music, but the latest is an overall miss. Straying from his folk roots, Beam creates a letdown for Iron and Wine lovers.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Danni Goodmann at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org