Friday, October 14, 2011

Feist - Metals

Remember that iPod Nano commercial from 2007 where a vividly dressed Feist danced around to her single "1234" in an empty warehouse all on the screen of Apple's handheld invention?  That ad spot pushed Feist into the US spotlight (it also convinced me to buy that pale green Nano).  The iPod has come a long way since then, and so has Feist.  Her third album, The Reminder, went on to receive critical and commercial success.  Last year, she released Look At What The Light Did Now, a docu-concert film and soundtrack.  The movie gave an inside look at Leslie Feist's recording process and tour.  Now that we know how she dislikes placing her face on album covers or that "The Park" was actually recorded at a park, Feist has released the follow-up record to The Reminder.

Her fourth album is Metals and she is on the album cover, although she's always been in the artwork one way or another.  With Metals, she's also crafted the ideal post-mainstream exposure record.  Feist hasn't compromised her signature sound that mixes pop, folk, and rock.  There isn't a desperate attempt to recreate the "1234" formula.  Metals is a complete piece of music that flows so smoothly from the first beat to the final note.

Feist's two previous albums were a bit scatterbrained at times.  They each had a basic concept and sound, but the occasional track would always stick out as something that was still special, but a reach in a different direction.  Metals avoids that method completely.  The album has taken a set of instruments and built a definite sound.  The songs feel like one recording session with bookends.

On average, the tracks within Metals are mellow and relaxed.  Even the lead single tends to fall into the lax category.  An appropriately sized handful of heavy hitting numbers are present.  "A Commotion" has a ricocheting Spoon-like piano line and shouting male vocalists while "Undiscovered First" builds into a massive electric sing-along ending.  The big moments know when and where to fall and achieve the right effect.

One of Feist's strong points, the folk ballads, really help seal together the ups and downs of Metals.  You'll hear some instances that are reminiscent of "The Water" and "The Park" while other songs have a campfire mood.  Feist may have taken the phrase "save the best for last" to heart.  The album's final track, "Get It Wrong, Get It Right", is melodically spectacular and ends Metals in the best way possible.

This album may not be brand new territory, but it confirms that Feist can do wonders when she finds her niche.  All she needs is an acoustic guitar and a sentimental melody.  Metals has that guitar and those beautiful melodies, but it also holds so much more.

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