Indie songstress eschews crowd-pleasing indie pop anthems for a more atmospheric and mature effort.
Feist’s music is like the soundtrack of our lives, and by that I don’t just mean it’s ubiquitous or inescapable, like her 2007 hit “1234.” Her songs are a kind of sonic Rorschach test, always reflecting back to the listener the feeling he or she is searching for.
Metals, Feist’s newest album, is her deepest and darkest work yet. The Canadian songstress ruminates on love, nature and relationships turned sour with anguished, lilting vocals — no giddy indie-pop anthems here.
The opus borrows from blues and jazz with its occasional use of horns and achingly plucked guitar strings. A thumping, rhythmic beat, provided at times by claps or shoe–stomps, is a staple on much of the album, while the intermittent sci–fi ‘bleeps’ that gave The Reminder a slightly electronic feel are almost entirely absent here. And even as several of the songs build to loud, clashing conclusions, Feist has your ears straining for her consistently lovely, subtle vocals that keep it all grounded.
This is mood music: atmospheric and haunting, each song blending into the next to create an overall impression. Her second track, “Graveyard,” epitomizes it as a slow-building tune with a memorable refrain sure to conjure images of shadowy figures and murky marshes.
Feist’s first single, “How Come You Never Go There,” is the stand-out on the album; her lyrics eloquently describe a heated argument with both a lover and with her own feelings of loneliness and resentment: “The room is full of eyes and empty/Like your letters never sent me.” This message, underscored by frequent, catchy “Whoa–whoa–whoa–ohs,” renders the song instantly relatable and irresistibly hummable.
There are few other songs that carry such ‘single’ potential, and some will argue therefore that Metals never reaches the heights of Feist’s previous efforts. Yet it feels here that Feist, more mature and world–weary after riding the wave of success fostered by her iPod nano commercials, is deliberately eschewing the crowd–pleasing, blockbuster sensibility of pop music. It’s an indignant message, but we truly shouldn’t have expected anything less of the indie darling who has always transcended such constraints.
Sounds like: Florence Welch’s crooning mixed with Adele’s anguish and jazzy influence
Good for: A low-key gathering or mellow night in
99–cent download: “Graveyard”