Monday, January 24, 2011

Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean review

I can only assume that the cat in the above video was only reacting to Iron and Wine's new album, Kiss Each Other Clean.  In a previous post I reviewed the first single off of the album, a mushy little slice of cheese that sounded as though it belonged in a Kate Hudson rom-com titled "Walking Far From Home" (you can read that review here).  I was less than impressed with that song then and my views haven't changed since, so my expectations regarding the rest of the album were shockingly low.

Kiss Each Other Clean is Iron and Wine's major label debut, and the man behind the moniker, Sam Beam, had gone on record to say that the sound of the album would be more "radio-friendly".  If by "radio friendly" he means that every track is encumbered by unnecessary cooing backing vocals and a ridiculous number of layered instruments (was that a train whistle I just heard?), I suppose his synopsis is well founded.  Almost every song that appears is the victim of being over produced.  Gone are the days of hushed, intimate vocals and delicate finger plucking on a classical guitar, the future is now.  And the future has a shit ton of instruments that I probably couldn't even name if I saw them.  Put it this way, if previous Iron and Wine releases were like a subtle independent movie, Kiss Each Other Clean is like a Michael Bay film, all style, no substance.

I will admit that there are some catchy songs present on this album that will probably end up on the radio, "Tree By The River", is a notable example.  That being said, despite all of the album's bells and whistles, most of the songs are just downright boring.  It's almost as if Beam was so concerned with playing with all of his shiny new major label studio toys that he forgot he actually had to put effort into writing credible songs.  "Big Burned Hand" is an atrociously bad song that sounds like it was a half-baked rejected song off of a Dave Matthews Band album back in the late 90's before Beam stumbled across it.

If Beam wants to take Iron and Wine mainstream, complete with videos that have heavy rotation on VH1, I would have to say that he probably accomplished that.  It will only be a matter of time before Iron and Wine is set to tour with Jack Johnson or secure a spot at the Brochella Music Festival.

Iron and Wine - Naked As We Came

Listen to the entire album at the official Iron and Wine website.

Iron & Wine Kiss Each Other Clean


Stevie Holmes said...

Truly terrible album that offended my ear-drums. Can't understand why so many people are giving it good reviews unless they simply aren't being honest! Well done you!

ryan said...

I totally agree with you Stevie...I was shocked as to how many people thought this was the best Iron and Wine album...were they not listening to the same music as us?