Iron and Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
If you were hoping that Samuel Beam might return to the stripped-down acoustic folk of early Iron and Wine, you'll have to wait a bit longer. On Kiss Each Other Clean he's gone even further with the sonic experimentation of his last album, 2007's The Shepherd's Dog. The introspective tunes are ornamented with buzzing analog synths, Afrobeat rhythms, funky psychedelic guitars, jazzy sax lines and lush layers of doo-wop vocals.
At times the vibe comes dangerously close to the overblown bombast of 70s prog rock, but, thankfully, the ambitious production doesn't bury the songwriting at the core. If you stripped away the overdubs, the material could work on acoustic guitar, but that doesn't mean the studio trickery is gratuitous. There can be a thin line between ambitious and pretentious, but this record dodges the latter gracefully.
Top track: Me And Lazarus BB