Random Record Revival: Feist, “Metals”

Feist "Metals"

Several years ago, when discovering in more depth the Canadian music scene, Leslie Feist quickly found her way into our musical catalogue.  At that particular time, we had zero familiarity with “The Broken Social Scene” (shame on us, right?), meaning that Feist (the name under which she releases her solo material) would be one of many ‘new’ indie-rock acts that appealed to our musical tastes.  From our initial impressions, we quickly discovered why the albums “Let It Die” and “The Reminder” were considered a commercial success both within the ‘indie’ and ‘mainstream’ markets.  However, for me, it was the “Metals” album that really grabbed my attention and separated Feist from the rest of the pack.

Upon the first listen, “Metals” is an indie album, pure and simple.  This is probably why this album resonates more with me, as it does not share the same ‘commercial success’ formula that was evident on her previous releases.  With “Metals,” Feist delivers a twelve-track masterpiece that is much more ‘honest’ and organic; this is material written not to spawn numerous top twenty hits, but to allow the artist the opportunity to remain true to her sound and material (and hardcore fan base).

Early reviews for this album argued that Feist was potentially committing career suicide by not pandering to the needs of her newfound audience.  I would completely disagree with this assessment.  I will always choose to measure an artist by their creativity and willingness to write and perform music that comes from the heart, as opposed to a formulaic strategy for satisfying a record-sales quota.

Those same early reviews stated that there was no commercially viable track to release as a single, but again, I have to disagree.  Both “How Come You Never Go There” and “The Circle Married The Line” could easily crossover to mainstream radio (the latter could easily appeal to a Tori Amos audience, in my opinion).

There are two tracks on this album that stand out above all others for me.  The first is “Bittersweet Melodies,” which allows Feist to provide vocals against just a piano and simple drum beat, before building up the momentum with strings and backing vocals that bring the song to a close.  The second is “Graveyard,” which to me is a perfect example of a true indie-rock ballad; great rhythm, and that slight off-timing between musicians (this was a fun one to learn with my bass guitar), before the horns kick in and Feist hits the listener with the repeated “bring them all back to life” line to close out the song.

It was a pleasure pulling this album out of the collection for another airing, and for anybody who is unfamiliar with Leslie Feist, I would strongly recommend “Metals” as a good place to start.  It may not provide you with the instant gratification of a mainstream hit (choose “The Reminder” if that is what you are looking for), but will certainly introduce you to a Feist sound that embraces nature, love and life itself.  With a new release scheduled for April 2017, it was a pleasure to revisit this album by Feist, and I eagerly await the new material to see which direction she has chosen this time around.

~ M

Visit Feist’s website.

Listen to “Metals” on Spotify.

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