Kiss Each Other CleanAlbum |
Alt-folk’s crown prince learns to dance.
In his first decade of working under the Iron and Wine banner, Sam Beam built his sound from the ground up, in increasingly adventurous leaps. The first three I&W long-players moved from bare-bones indie-folk to slinky, swampy grooves to neo-psychedelia, as Beam and band continued to hone their approach through roadwork. Kiss Each Other Clean isn't as much of a drastic change as some of its predecessors, but if anything, it's simultaneously Iron and Wine's most polished production and its most groove-oriented effort to date. Although such slow-rolling tunes as "Walking Far From Home" and "Godless Brother In Love" aren't exactly disco-ball material, the wah-wah-flecked funk of "Big Burned Hand" sounds like Beam stealing the members of Rufus away from Chaka Khan, and the African-flavored percussion, sax interjections, and churning grooves of "Rabbit Will Run" and "Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me" suggest that the bearded bandleader's been holing himself up with the Fela Kuti catalog. Even midtempo tunes like "Monkeys Uptown" and "Me and Lazarus" revolve around undeniably funky bass ostinatos. In the early 2000s, when Beam was the Great White Hope (with the emphasis on "white") of alt-Americana, who would have guessed that he'd start the next decade as a groovemeister?
|Tree by the River (Live on WNYC)|