Iron & Wine

Kiss Each Other Clean

For most artists, reinvention is not a one-shot deal, but a gradual and painstaking process—and one that’s rarely met with open arms. Lucky for us, then, that Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam is not most artists. For his fourth studio album, the lyrically titled Kiss Each Other Clean, Beam all but abandons his whispered speak-sing and plinking arrangements, exchanging them (rather successfully) for pointed, pop-minded vocals, warm organ tones, and a whole lot of electric guitar. Stylistically, Clean can be linked back to the radio-friendly stuff of Beam’s childhood. But one listen through and it’s easy to realize this is something far bigger than homage. On “Half Moon,” ambitious vocal arrangements give way to a beautiful hybrid of folk and doo-wop. “Run Rabbit Run” is a meticulous blending of African percussion, grinding guitar noodlings, and Beam’s so-immediate-it-hurts lyricism. Meanwhile, “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me” jumps headfirst into full-band territory and creates seven minutes of jazzy experimentalism unlike anything Beam’s previously attempted.

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