REVIEW: Feist – Metals

This week has been a nightmare… At least the past two days have. I had a tooth pulled out yesterday– a big tooth– and that is really quite painful. I would not recommend it. As such I’ve been asked to reduce my diet to mushy, bland foods and water. I’m also not allowed to spit.

It’s been years since Leslie Feist’s The Reminder was added to my collection. A rather beautiful CD of poignant songs about love, it spawned earworm “1 2 3 4” and Feist became the face of the colourful iPod Nano ad campaign that year. Since that release she’s claimed to have forgotten how to perform her songs.

In other words, Metals, which debuted this month, is not like The Reminder save for the fact that Feist is on the album.

Luckily, this album is about the only thing I’ve had this week that isn’t bland (I mean, I’ve even been reading bland) and there’s no need to spit. Metals is a wonderful disc.
Feist is a lot more down to earth with this album; her voice isn’t backed by catchy or even lovey-dovey tunes filled with colour and pep. She won’t be dancing around in a blue bodysuit for any music videos. Heck, none of her music videos should even have dancing this time around. From the get-go with “The Bad in Each Other”, the stage is set for haunting beauty. Metals is an album of somberness and art. Fortunately, this lead-in is wonderful and, followed by “Graveyard”, it’s both relaxing and tranquil.

Like Emily Haines (and the Soft Skeleton) before her, Feist has gone the way of the piano-based Broken Social Scene-alumni on some tracks; “Caught a Long Wind” is spread out with slow keys and winding guitar accompaniment. A steady drum beat pats into “How Come You Never Go There?”, a jazzier number, and gets put to more frantic (yet controlled) use for the uneasy “A Commotion”. What’s quite amazing about the CD is that it never sounds as heavy as metal itself, but it has a molten core unto itself that emerges the deeper you travel into the tracks.

But metal must cool– soon after you get half-way through the album, Feist eases into calm, guitar-based songs (like “Cicadas and Gulls” and “Bittersweet Melodies”) which, by no means, are pop radio-friendly. It’s clear that Feist is not making this album with the same reasons she made The Reminder; it’s rather noticeable that this album is more an artistic statement than a runaway best-seller.

Feist’s new album ends with the track “Get It Wrong, Get It Right”, a song with a number of background sounds from tinkling and hollow metals to lightly-flowing water (rain?) behind once again, piano and guitar. It doesn’t matter whether Metals is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ per se. The one thing I can say for sure is despite a blatant shift in style from once CD to the next, Feist has made an almost-serene fourth album and that beats most aches in the teeth we’ve been seeing from well-established artists in the past few months.


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