Feist

The Reminder, Feist’s last album, blew the fuck up because it had a few good singles with great videos, because it showed up prominently in some commercials, and because it generally sounded just about perfect as a low-volume dinner-party soundtrack. That reads as extremely faint praise, but it’s not; The Reminder was a perfectly charming low-key record that served a definite utilitarian purpose, and we need records like that. But it’s still a bit of a surprise when Metals opens with “The Bad In Each Other,” a pulsing, mythic post-blues lope that sounds something like Feist’s take on Led Zeppelin III. The song isn’t a radical departure; it’s as pretty and restrained as anything on The Reminder. But it’s also tougher and more intense than anything on that album. It’s an enormously promising opening track, and it suggests that Feist has gained a ferocious level of swagger since finding indie-level stardom.

The track turns out to be something of a fake-out. Other songs, like “A Commotion,” might bring the loudness, but “The Bad In Each Other” is by far the album’s best song, and nothing else (except maybe “Cicadas And Gulls”) really comes close to its toothy power. Almost every track on Metals could fit comfortably onto The Reminder. And though there’s no single track as winsomely catchy as “1234,” it’s easy to forecast the album achieving the same backgrounded cultural omnipresence. It has the same prettily sensitive lilt to it, and it’ll work just as well when I’m washing dishes at night or putting my toddler to bed.

But Metals still represents a step beyond The Reminder just because it’s a more confident, less self-consciously adorable piece of work. For one thing, I’m pretty sure it’s Feist’s first album with no cover songs. And for another, it’s a more grounded, sonically stark record than any of her previous efforts. Her voice is slighter and more approachable, but the album still has accents of Fiona Apple’s lush-pop panache. And it’s hard to imagine the Feist of a few years ago pulling off a moment like the choral climax of “Graveyard.” Metals may feature hushed harmonies and songs about birds, but there’s nothing nose-wrinkle cute about it. The record remains fully serious all the way through, and that’s probably what it needed to do.

I’m not expecting Metals to carve out a new audience for Feist or to dominate year-end lists. The same people who liked The Reminder will probably like this one. Except this time, maybe they’ll be a little less reflexively embarrassed about it.

Metals is out 10/4 via Cherrytree/Interscope. Stream it below:

Tags:  
Comments (57)
  1. Please watch your foul language in the first line. There are moms out there reading this post.

    • Are you reading it to your children?

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • Why, because of a joke about how moms love listening to Feist (which is true, considering she appeared on the Today show, The View, Ellen) and a host of other mom-demographic daytime television shows to support The Reminder, and apparently I had to politely point out the use of sarcasm to someone who clearly did understand that. Give me a break…

          • *did not understand that

          • Actually, forget it. I would like to announce my official retirement as a regular contributing commenter here on Stereogum. I believe that even in my attempts to contribute discussion of value to this site, it’s impossible given the culture of disrespect others subscribe to. There will be no reemergence under a different name or a return to that of a former state. Thanks for reading and you may now continue to downvote.

          • Yeah that culture of disrespect is a big problem. Always hearing people say things like “Only when it’s on while your mother is on my dick.” or “This bitch gets way too much press for someone who has one Pitchfork-approved single.” Thank you Michael_ for delivering us from such inane commentary and guiding the site in such a positive direction. Your sacrifice in the comment above mine will not go unnoticed. May your martyrdom free us all from a comment section polluted with trolling and insults.

          • This said from the person who posts links to what appeared to be graphic pornographic material on the comment section. You’re disgusting and from the looks of your past commentary, you should be banned.

          • Go ahead, Michael_, they want you to want them hate you. You know what to do…

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2011 0

            No! Be away, you devil!

          • Oh come on, a little harmless trolling never hurt any one…

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2011 0

            I said stop it! I am not the same as you!!

          • We have more in common than you like to think, Michael_. You need me. I AM you.

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2011 -2

            I WILL NEVER BE YOU!

            *bashes head into wall in the style of Leland Palmer to exorcise the demon of Killer Bob from his body*

          • Downvote for the Twin Peaks spoiler, sheeeeeesh

          • I for one welcomed the pornographic material.

            Damn I missed a good week of commenting here.

        • Hey, I really do learn something new everyday!

          Twatwaffle.

      • I do actually spend surprising amounts of time reading music reviews to my kids. Never know when they’ll need to tell the difference between a “sprawling” album and an “anthemic” one.

      • Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 28th, 2011 +1

        Hmm… I’m pretty sure Jon Wilson’s comment wasn’t the one that warranted the above definition response. I can’t remember who or what exactly that comment was but I do remember it lacked the equally sarcastic depth of Mr. Wilson’s.

    • HA, I love this psychodrama!

  2. I see that even Leslie has jumped on the “planking” bandwagon.

  3. So this isn’t so much an evaluation of Metals as much as it is a projection of your “reflexive embarrassment” about liking a commercially successful record like The Reminder? silly me, i expected this “review” to focus on the music, not your pedantic and self-conscious impressions of what it means to listen to Feist.

    • I suppose the assumption is that when reviewing, you talk about the music, which they clearly did; in part, by comparing to The Reminder, as it would seem is easy to do when you read the following sentence from this review, “Almost every track on Metals could fit comfortably onto The Reminder.” What else is there to know if you’ve heard The Reminder?

      • I don’t really hear how it’s like The Reminder, actually. There isn’t one single upbeat song, not many direct hooks, the production is much denser and intricate, different sorts of arrangements, and the singing is more distant.

        How is it like The Reminder?

    • This is exactly what I thought. Well said.

  4. I am not embarrassed about my love for the Reminder. That is a truly wonderful record. Who the fuck cares that other people also liked it? I learned to get over that shit 20 years ago when everyone started liking other records that I liked “first,” i.e. Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Ten, etc. Come on Stereogum; you can grow up too. If “same people who liked The Reminder will probably like this one” then I am looking forward it. cheers.

    • ddogdunit  |   Posted on Sep 27th, 2011 -3

      uh, why are you proud that you ‘like” blood sugar sex magik? that album is like auditory date rape, it’s not just bro-friendly, the album was MADE by bros.

    • I agree. It’s really pretentious to suggest that it’s some sort of guilty pleasure, I don’t really think any music should be a guilty pleasure. If it’s good, it’s good, if you like it, you probably like it for a reason. Who the fuck cares is right.

      • Here here. This write-up is kind of a microcosm of everything I hate about indie music blogging of this sort. It’s a backlash or indie-cred hedge. “Yeah it’s decent enough and “charming” music, given how lame it is.” Give me a break. Feist is an incredible performer and musician. And the Reminder was a great album (as was Let It Die). Write-ups like these are so comically predictable when certain talented artists achieve widespread success. Sometimes they are warranted, but often times they are not.

        Disclaimer: I haven’t heard the new album, but since half of this post focuses on the Reminder I commented on that.

      • Right. Chuck Klosterman wrote a great column about this several years ago:

        http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ1104-NOV_AMERICA

  5. Why is there no review or love for the new Youth Lagoon album that dropped today? Get on it Stereogum.

  6. And I’d STILL marry her.

  7. I’m embarrased for anyone that like Das Racist. I also make a bangin’ mac and cheese.

  8. What a great album. What a piss poor ‘review’

  9. I’m not a huge Feist fan, but man, this was one ridiculously condescending review.

    I mean, well, I guess the review was pretty charming, if you’re into that sort of thing. :P

  10. i think it actually sounds more like Let It Die than The Reminder.

  11. Perhaps the most self concious review I’ve ever read here. I expect more from you Stereogum.

  12. While I enjoyed The Reminder, I basically forgot about it after a few listens and after listening to Metals, I feel about the same. If a song from any of her albums comes on the radio, I’ll probably find myself humming along to it, but it’s not going to linger around for long. No need to get up in arms because a reviewer states that they feel it’s a better album, but could easily be songs from the previous album. Getting so defensive about these things kind of makes it seem like you are a bit ashamed of liking what you like.

  13. I don’t get it, why is this song not on the album? ‘He Was Free’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_qToJybFiE
    Or am I mistaken and was it cover? it’s far superior to anything on the album…uh?

  14. Well I suppose these evaluations are premature for a reason…………..

  15. For a “music review” I find it bizarre and slightly insulting that you mention only two (or three) songs on “Metals”. Why insult people who listen to “The Reminder” when it’s obvious that you’re the one who can’t stop talking about it after 4-5 years. You took up more space discussing it than the actual new album.

  16. I mean, why is it an insult that everyone, no matter what age, loves your music, instead of just a small group of conceited assholes?

  17. I highly recommend you SPIN’s version of “Premature Evaluation” called “First Listen” (the article is actually bit older including an excluded or probably renamed track called “Woe Be”) if you look for a little more detailed track evaluation. http://www.spin.com/articles/first-listen-feists-new-album-metals

  18. In offering your faint praise that “The Reminder was a perfectly charming low-key record that served a definite utilitarian purpose,” you completely neglected to address Leslie’s actual songwriting and performance on the album.

    It sounds almost as if it’s a pleasant series of sounds just emanating from the ether–not a work created by an actual human being with talent rather than just a pleasant hum permeating pop culture.

  19. whoever this ‘tom’ character is, I’m not a fan.

  20. Well you can’t will ‘em all.

  21. Awesomeness!! fuck off this review!!

  22. A fair and honest review. I caught the sneak peak of this album off Pitchfork. Wasn’t entirely impressed but I did respect her a little more for her the grittiness in the album (the little bit of it that shows). She needs to pull more of that weird twinkly Grizzly Bear stuff (i.e. “Service Bell”), that would have pushed this album a little further. Anyway, nice review!

    • Well that song was pretty much a song by Grizzly (lyrics + production) rerecorded so it wasn’t like it was a different side of “her”. Service Bell is a great song though I really liked the sound of her voice on that one.

  23. Since when does grit=respect? I like the pop nature of her songs. Also, disliking an album and be condescending toward it are two different things.

  24. Not everyone is going to like every single album, so of course we will always disagree about pretty much everything. I think of Metals as Feist’s best effort to date, but I’m not going to get upset if someone is being condescending towards it. If you think about all the factors that go into shaping your music taste, such as your upbringing, environment, whether or not you have any classical music training, whether you tend to respond more to the lyrics or the instrumental arrangements, then it’s clear that no two people on this planet could possible have identical combinations of these factors, and therefore, no identical tastes.

    That being said, if you call yourself a music critic, then you need to aim at objectivity, and evaluate a music album based on its musical merits, not your own subjective impressions. Tell us if the chord progressions are complex and interesting, or if it is same C-D-E-C stuff over and over again. Or if there is there any diversity in the rhythm structures, etc. It shouldn’t be “it’ll work just as well when I’m washing dishes at night or putting my toddler to bed”. That’s something I would write on my blog for my own entertainment, but I expect more from a professional.

  25. thank you for recommending this band !

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.

%s1 / %s2