Arts & Crafts
The last time we saw Leslie Feist, she was dancing up a storm in a sparkly blue jumpsuit, belting out her snappy single “1234” and helping to sell a lot of iPod nanos. After years of hard work, the Canadian indie-pop queen was in the enviable position of enjoying both mainstream popularity and critical acclaim. By late 2007, her sophomore album The Reminder had racked up countless award nominations for its sharp songwriting and assured delivery.
But like many musicians who experience that level of acclaim, Feist decided to get outta Dodge for a while and enjoy some down time. Now four years later, we have Metals – a dialed-back record that emphasizes mood over hooks. Gone are the jaunty pop tunes of yore: forget about finding any instant-gratification singles in the vein of “I Feel it All” or “My Moon, My Man” here.
The good news for Feist fans is that her voice has never sounded better. That cool-glass-of-water timbre and dexterous way of winding around a melody is still front and centre, especially on tracks like “Caught a Long Wind” with its hushed piano, double bass and languid tempo. One minute she’s pulling back to a whisper; the next she’s pushing her voice into a lush vibrato.
Midway through the album, it’s hard not to feel the fatigue set in. There’s very little variety in the dynamics department and by the time the plodding “Anti-Pioneer” gets underway, some listeners might be ready for a snooze.
Overall, the performances and production are lovely, but in its worst moments the album comes across as staid and unmemorable. Nothing delivers on the promise of album opener “The Bad in Each Other”, with its insistent percussion and dramatic build. You keep waiting for the music to take off, but it mainly just hovers.
Review appears in prairie dog magazine.