Monday, May 6, 2013

Feist: Metals

I think it’s pretty neat that, when Feist was ready to capitalize on the popularity of her appearance in an Apple commercial, she went and released an album like this. Specifically, it sounds to me like a Feist album, although it’s the first one I’ve ever listened to, it’s exactly what she should be doing. If there was any pressure to write another giddy-in-love pop tune like “1234,” she didn’t bow to it. And at a time when big voices and big production are the big ticket for female vocalists (as if they ever weren’t?) Leslie Feist releases a soft-focus, broken-down, weepy, whispery lo-fi affair that shows off the unique skillset she’s got, that no one else on the scene really approaches.

It’s got the courage to be quiet, the strength to be sad. And not grandiose, melodramatic, “Someone Like You” sad, although that has its place (as the market has proven!) but quiet, contemplative, sulky, sullen sad, the kind familiar to moody teens and adults alike. She evokes this with her voice that creaks when she pushes it, her phrasing and lyrics, which are the kind of poetry that could easily line notebook margins: all concerned with desolate nature and weather and the world around. There’s also the very, very well-done instrumental arrangement of soft horns, light strings, and discordant olde blues guitars that twang and blare at just at the right time. Sometimes, Feist’s voice disappears right into it. “Undiscovered First” is built around a tambourine that hisses like a rattlesnake, before building to a hymnal war chant. You can tell she comes from the indie world and not the pop one because she’s not afraid to let her songs develop beyond a traditional “hook.”

My favourite tracks are the sultry “How Come We Never Go There,” which like the best points of the album is built around restraint, the mesmerizing “The Bad in Each Other,” the rhythmic “Comfort Me,” and the dusty, willowy “Graveyard.” In general, I like how increased exposure only made Feist want to keep writing Feist songs, being Feist, doing Feist. It’s not easy to be this defiantly yourself. This is some heady stuff and it will not be for everyone. It reminds me of the Low album I reviewed last year, C’mon: it takes patience and intense listening, although it also works in the background as well.

Buy this album now: iTunes (Canada) // iTunes (USA) // //

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