Release Date: Oct 4, 2011
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
In this crazy mixed up world it's important to have something to believe in; some sort of essential truth that, no matter how bad things get, you can always rely on. Personally, I choose to believe that it's impossible to dislike Canadian songstress Leslie Feist. Which is admittedly a weirdly specific belief to have, and a difficult one to hang onto when the internet offers easy access to irrational amounts of hatred on practically anything you can think of (I expect that I'm also unintentionally soliciting evidence to counter my theory in the comments box below).
Time and circumstance are indeed again significant themes in Feist’s new work—especially when it comes to relationships between people and places—and they weigh heavily against the music, where agreeable pop melodies have been replaced wholly with a temperamental set of strings and impatient piano chords. Metals is not entirely an easy listen; the message remains the same, even if the manner of expression has shifted. Though she claims herself more narrator than confessor here, it’s hard to remove the deeply personal impressions from being truths.
The very qualities that make Leslie Feist such a distinctive pop artist are also the very things that make her too easy to dismiss: Her understated melodies, restrained performances and thoughtful arrangements are often decried as dull, monotonous, samey—as if these are critical adjectives that require no further elaboration. Especially at a time when an album’s shelf-life can be measured in days or weeks instead of months or years, Feist makes music that requires close attention and repeated spins, and yet there’s almost always a payoff—some revelation that rewards the listener’s investment. The Reminder, Feist’s 2009 breakthrough, was—at least relatively—bubbly and spirited, and “1 2 3 4” didn’t need an iPod commercial to sell its showtune effervescence.
FEIST plays Massey Hall December 1. See listing. Rating: NNNN It's hard to not read Feist's Metals as a reaction against the success of the massive success of 1234, which of course became ubiquitous because of constant repetition in iPod ads, despite it being one of the few songs off The Reminder that she didn't write herself. If you're looking for something similarly sunny and cheerful, Metals could initially feel like a downer, but it's also an album that truly lends itself to an immersive listening experience that will reward you if you have the patience.
She’s the one who did that iPod ad (‘[b]1234[/b]’). She also wrote that plinky-plonky song found playing beneath the opening [i]The Inbetweeners[/i] scene (‘[b]I Feel It All[/b]’). And even [a]James Blake[/a] plumped a pouty take on ‘[b]Limit To Your Love[/b]’ out the arse-end of 2010.Leslie [a]Feist[/a] herself is much less ubiquitous.
There must be something in the ether. Björk's website has twinkled with pictures of sparkly minerals in the run-up to her imminent album, Biophilia, riffing hard on the natural world as a musical resource. Nature also plays a starring role in Feist's fourth album, the first in four long years from the Canadian singer, erstwhile member of Broken Social Scene and Peaches sidekick.
Among the ranks of platinum-selling singer-songwriters whose music ends up wafting around commercial breaks and dinner parties alike, Leslie Feist cuts a unique figure. Her music has been used to flog everything from Silentnight mattresses to iPods, but her background is on rock's artier fringes, where the ad men and compilers of Acoustic Chill Vol 2 rarely tread. On YouTube you can find Feist tapdancing in a fluorescent outfit in the company of longterm collaborator Chilly Gonzales; baptising crotch-fixated rapper Peaches in a Los Angeles swimming pool; licking Peaches's bicycle in another clip; and starring alongside Cillian Murphy in a 16-minute arthouse film called The Water – light on dialogue, heavy on meaningful facial expressions, approvingly described by one reviewer as "excruciatingly slow" and directed by Kevin Drew, her sometime partner in sprawling Toronto art-rock collective Broken Social Scene.
Ever since her giddy ”1234” appeared in a 2007 Apple ad, Leslie Feist may be best known as That Canadian Lady Who Sold a Billion iPods. So it figures that you’ll need ear buds to fully appreciate each string pluck, acoustic-guitar strum, and Oxford-shoe stomp. Metals, which borrows from jazz and blues, is an artfully arranged opus with such natural beauty, it should be certified organic.
The headline of one of the best Hollywood gossip stories you're likely to encounter this year reads, "Shia LaBeouf and Michael Bay Got in a Really Big Fight Over Feist." To prepare for an emotional scene in Transformers 3, LaBeouf plugged his iPad into a pair of on-set speakers and was vibing to The Reminder ballad "Brandy Alexander" when Bay abruptly shut the song off. Things got heated, "spit [was] flying," and Bay stormed off set. Whatever this incident tells us about Michael Bay (like maybe he's just really impassioned in his opinion that Let It Die was a better record), it tells us even more about where we're currently at, culturally speaking, with Feist.
Eight tracks into Metals, you’ll find “Anti-Pioneer”. That title is a bit of an oxymoron considering the song was created by Leslie Feist, one of music’s most dynamic pioneers of recent years. She doesn’t do anything other-worldly or exceptional in terms of musical exploration, but she bridges a very wide gap between indie kids and the top 40 charts.
Review Summary: Wear walking shoes.Leslie Feist's response to her brief stint as world dominator is a predictably "uncommercial" affair, forgoing the buoyancy of the excellent (if overpraised) The Reminder for a more dirt-inflected sound. Which might sound like an overly facile grab at authenticity in somebody else's hands, but Metals affects with - get this - its sentiency. Yes, an album that is more consciously intimate than its predecessor also feels more comprehensively alive.
For all the praise it garnered, Feist's 2007 album The Reminder became something of a guilty pleasure. Maybe it was the version of "1,2,3,4" played on Sesame Street, or the Apple-driven ubiquity of that song and "My Moon, My Man." Maybe it was how unapologetically sweet and decidedly not cynical the record was. Maybe it was a mix of all these things.
With Metals, Feist responds to the surprise success of 2007’s The Reminder with a whisper, not a bang. She treads lightly through a series of disjointed torch songs and smoky pop/rock numbers, singing most of the songs in a soft, gauzy alto, as though she’s afraid of waking some sort of slumbering beast. Whenever the tempo picks up, so does Feist’s desire to keep things weird, with songs like “A Commotion” pitting pizzicato strings against a half-chanted, half-shouted refrain performed by an army of male singers.
Leslie Feist’s 2004 major-label debut, the masterful Let It Die, opened up with “Gatekeeper”, a song that balanced a sweet delivery with serious subject matter. Her performance was so lovely that it’s easy to skip over the fact that she’s singing about the often fleeting nature of love. The song comes off as happy, even though its lyrics indicate otherwise.
Leslie Feist's first album since 2007's breakout The Reminder feels closer in spirit to 2004's quieter, slower Let It Die. The Reminder's energetic pop doesn't make much of an appearance on Metals, as Feist instead turns to jazz for a musical foundation. The first single, "How Come You Never Go There," swings with a sleepy beat, and it's this sleepiness, more suitable to a cocktail lounge than a rock stage, that separates Metals from the passionate display found on The Reminder.
As one of the handful of indie artists to make substantial inroads in the pop mainstream, Broken Social Scenester Leslie Feist faces a tricky balancing act on Metals. The album is a transitional effort, as she attempts to retain her indie sensibilities without alienating the VH1 and Sesame Street audiences who responded so strongly to “My Moon, My Man” and “1234.” Though Metals is a beautiful album, Feist is only intermittently successful at striking that balance, leaning heavily on a polished MOR sound without creating any radio-ready tracks. What Feist does create on Metals is an ingratiating, warm vibe that highlights the loveliest aspects of her voice.
During her days with Broken Social Scene, Leslie Feist’s voice was the brilliant change of pace, change of tone, change of breathy beauty that gorgeously delivered magnificent moments. The band was at its finest when everyone’s singular traits were called upon for equally singular moments that couldn’t be matched by anyone else. Feist’s vocals – her delivery, her channeling of great vocalists, her unique attack and release – were always intriguing, let alone beguiling.
While Metals, Leslie Feist's fourth full-length album, lacks the playfulness and élan of 2007's The Reminder, which gave us "1234" and "I Feel It All," it may actually be a far more precious document. Where those songs represented the buoyant marriage of indie sensibilities and a sweet pop tooth, Metals lacks any one track that provides that frisson of sheer pleasure provided by bubble gum with indie cred. Metals is darker, more contemplative, heavier, a heady, atomic blend of folk-pop and emotional menace.
Finds the Canadian singer in the form of her life. James Skinner 2011 Over the course of her commercially available solo albums to date, Leslie Feist has expertly balanced the weighty with the whimsical; the heavyhearted with the straight-up joyful. On 2004’s Let It Die she offset the mournful shades of its title-track with the sublime Mushaboom, while 2007’s breakout LP The Reminder boasted a brace of affecting, minor key numbers alongside the wonder of 1234 (briefly ubiquitous after featuring in an iPod nano commercial).
FeistMetals(Cherrytree)3.5 Stars “So much past inside my present,” it turns out, is the one-liner from Feist’s wildly popular album The Reminder that has stuck around. What seemed like just one of many quaint choruses on an album full of them four years ago now hovers and looms over Metals, the new album from Feist. If Feist has rejected anything from her past fame it’s that she’s no longer very interested in being adorable.