Finds the Canadian singer in the form of her life.
James Skinner 2011-09-26
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).
Following a month spent arranging her new compositions in Toronto, she and long-time collaborators Chilly Gonzalez and Mocky decamped to a self-built studio in a "giant open space" they discovered on the coastline of California’s Big Sur to record Metals, and the results are suitably robust. The Bad in Each Other opens proceedings in a flurry of metronomic drums, guitars and sax all jostling under Feist’s emphatic delivery, until her tone softens come the chorus in order to rue the often damaging side-effects of love and attraction. Focusing on universal emotions and filtering them through her own experiences, she has come up with a startling set of songs here; one that reflects the wild surrounds of its gestation and equates them with the chaotic nature of modern life and relationships.
So, there is nothing quite as uplifting as those previously mentioned songs, but Metals remains as wonderfully organic and distinct as its predecessors, swerving from svelte, lilting numbers like How Come You Never Go There? to the abrasive, stabbing strings of A Commotion (one of Feist’s noisiest to date), and the sparse, dreamy, simple-as-you-like Cicadas & Gulls or Get It Wrong Get It Right. It is earthy and raw, replete with strings, horns and ivories that purposefully move from one pole to the other yet rarely tip into indulgence. Backing vocals throughout range from the raucous to the barely perceptible, underlining how much of a group effort this is. As made clear on last year’s documentary Look at What the Light Did Now, Feist’s core collective is very much a long-standing unit.
On top of all this, she is in the form of her life: whether providing Comfort Me with its wicked central lyric, cooing atop haunting album centrepiece Anti-Pioneer or echoing the bluesy guitar line that snakes its way through Undiscovered First, you get the impression that this rough gem of a record is exactly what she intended from the outset.