Album Reviews: Metals

Ugh, I have mad love for this band. So *snaps* to Murfie staffer, Sam, for sizing up Feist’s fourth studio album Metals, released on October 4, 2011. And 1, 2, 3, 4…here comes the review!

~ Leslie Feist, of Apple-commercial fame for her hit single “1234,” has been around the block a few times. While her solo releases only stretch back to 2007, Feist was formerly a member of Canada’s best (and biggest) kept secret, Broken Social Scene, a supergroup headed by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. From 2002 to as late as 2009, Feist toured on and off with the band, whose big band sound and eclectic collection of songs gave Feist a chance to explore her range, singing whispery tunes at times and shouting explosive choruses with the rest of the band at others.

Transferring this vocal dynamism to her solo albums, Feist manages to be folky without being boring, and poppy without being irritating. 2004’s Let It Die, Feist’s first effort released in the U.S., bequeathed one of her biggest hits, “Mushaboom,” a frivolous, fun pop song that sounds old-fashioned, but is still relevant in today’s music climate. 2007’s The Reminder gave us “1234,” Feist’s most commercially successful song, along with sassier tracks like “My Moon My Man” and slower ballads like “Limit to Your Love,” a James Blake cover that takes its liberties, but never sacrifices the integrity of the original song.

With 2011’s Metals, released in the U.S. two months ago, Feist departs from the more poppy sensibilities of her previous album. It’s edgier, and her voice, which in the past seemed primarily reserved for sweeter, old-fashioned lullabies, sounds fresher and more contemporary on this album. While it maintains the sultry, smoky sound we’ve become accustomed to in the past, she channels it to create a slightly different tone. The album has a solid variety of instrumentation – on the opening track “The Bad in Each Other,” Feist enlists the aid of trumpets and violins, but on tracks like “Cicadas & Gulls,” she relies mostly on songwriting, her voice, and a single acoustic guitar.

Ultimately, for fans of Feist and people who’ve never heard of her, Metals is an accessible folk-rock album, lush with remnants of her previous musical endeavors, yet teeming with newer, edgier songwriting techniques and instrumentation. From the soulful backup singers on her single “How Come You Never Go There” to the gentle piano on “Bittersweet Melodies,” Metals has a little bit for everyone, from folk lovers to pop song enthusiasts, and everyone in between.
     – Sam Eichner

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