For those who are familiar with Feist only through her 2007 hit 1234 from The Reminder, listening to Metals might seem like the work of a totally different artist. That catchy slice of electro-pop song was used by Apple to hype its iPod Nano and as a result briefly gave Leslie Feist a taste of mainstream success…earning her countless awards and Grammy nominations.
But anyone familiar with the Canadian artist over any length of time will know that she comes from a diverse musical background, playing in punk bands, working with Peaches and collaborating with Toronto’s Broken Social Scene.
Feist’s brush with fame and the lengthy tour that followed (see the doco Look What The Light Did Now) took the wind out of her creative sails and she avoided making music for a couple of years. Metals is her first album since The Reminder and although she is still working with long-time friends and producers Gonzales and Mocky, this is very different to what they’ve done previously.
The album opens with The Bad In Each Other. After the drums start things up, Feist’s soulful voice sings over a bed of guitar, piano, bass and strings. A “good man and a good woman bring out the worst in each other” she sings with a slightly slurred, jazzy inflection. There’s plenty of tension both musically and lyrically with big, dramatic finish.
Next comes Graveyard. A slow, solitary drum is heard while Feist intones, bring ‘em all back to life”. The track goes from dirge-like to a sing-a-long.
That’s how much of the album goes…complex pop songs with ornate production and Feist’s vocals sounding a bit like Tori Amos, or slow, sparse, bluesy tunes oozing emotion and atmosphere. The string arrangements on tunes like The Circle Married The Line and A Commotion are impressive, but it’s the quieter, less cluttered songs that pack the bigger emotional punch. Songs like Anti-Pioneer and Get It Wrong Get It Right have a way of sneaking up on the listener and staying with him or her longer than the more sonically adventurous tracks.
Having said that, the balance between the two approaches works well here, giving Lesley Feist an excellent, if unexpected follow-up to The Reminder
Click here to listen to Anti-Pioneer from Metals: