As I listened to Iron & Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days, I began to think about food. Not because of a rabid hunger that was suddenly caused by the pulsating sound waves entering my ears and permeating down to my stomach, but because of the easy comparison which came to mind between the experiences of consuming food and consuming music.

When it comes to eating, for me there are some things I can never get enough of (some examples would be the garlic bread at Pascucci, the tacos at the Taqueria and wine). Then there are some things that while I might still love, are best enjoyed in small doses (things like pickles, olives and vodka). The difference being that the items in the latter category lean too far in one flavorful direction to be palatable in high quantities. The pickles are too sour, the olives too salty and the vodka too… you know – whereas the tacos, bread and wine are balanced, well-rounded and somewhat milder in flavor.

Despite their name, Iron & Wine is much more like a sour, salty dill pickle than a smooth, bold glass of wine: good for a few bites but makes you feel ill if you eat too much.

The album opens with a satisfyingly minimal number called “On Your Wings” powered by a rich, arpeggiated guitar line and fronted by the barely-whispered vocals of songwriter Sam Beam. I thought it was a good, mellow, open-ended introduction and was excited to hear what would follow. Unfortunately, what followed was a lot more of what I’d already heard. As the moods, auras, emotions and overall sounds of the first tracks seemed to repeat themselves on subsequent tracks, the initial excitement I had experienced began to decompose into a mush of disappointment.

Iron & Wine proves to be yet another indie label band that is unable to distinguish itself from the droves of its counterparts, nor is the band able to distinguish its own songs from one another, sadly enough. At no point on the record do Beam’s mutterings deviate from the band’s decidedly flatlined whisper. The entire 12-song record exists as a one-liner that goes on 11 lines too long and averages out to be something irrelevant and easily forgettable. Here’s the problem: Life is not a one-liner. Life is full of peaks and valleys, ups and downs, yells and whispers. And in a world such as this, there is more to be demanded out of music than what Our Endless Numbered Days is able to offer.
[Danny Lewis knows the value of a good, solid “yowsa!”]