by Laura Stanley
In a record of easy to digest songs, tinged only slightly by a scattered heartbreaking darkness, Leslie Feist’s The Reminder threw her into superstardom. Though her past record, and former Polaris Prize nominee, got picked up by everyone from local radio stations, indie music connoisseurs, and mothers alike, it’s in her third record Metals, where Feist pushes her creative boundaries for Polaris Prize winning results.
After extensive touring led to a two year break in music, Metals marks a new, rejuvenated side to Feist. Not as listener friendly compared to her previously mentioned work, maybe Metals has lost some of her bandwagon hopping fans but you know what, that’s okay. For an incredible product, her indie-pop melodies have, for the most part, been replaced with an array of percussion ruckus, the horns of Colin Stetson (former Polaris nominee), full-bodied vocals, and smartly placed guitar riffs.
When you first come into the world of Metals, one listen won’t do it. Hidden in every crevice of the record is something new, some different layer of a song or verse that you didn’t quite catch the first time. As you become fully engrossed into the world of Metals, it’s then when you realize how incredibly rich the record it. Recruiting the likes of Chilly Gonzales, Stetson, Bry Webb, Howie Beck, and the band Mountain Man, for a glorious backing band, Feist and her “crew” combine for an unstoppable team.
As previously mentioned in my album review, the record does change between moments of vulnerability to intensity, to passion, and confidence. In between these emotional ups and downs, you’ll find yourself not drawn to one song over the others. With no one single, there is no centre-piece in the record, that one song that summarizes all of the sentiments of the record. As a result, every song drives the record forward, pushes it to new heights, and part of the collective entity.
Where the percussion section thunders in “The Bad In Each Other,” “A Commotion,” and in the latter half of “Undiscovered First,” a quiet array of guitars, pianos, and strings in “Caught A Long Wind” and “Bittersweet Melodies” vividly contrast. With all of the changing instrumentation, one that also fuses rock, jazz, and blues to a folky style, Feist’s voice is soaring about it all. Most notably head in “The Circle Married The Line,” her voice is one of familiarity, strength, and pure power that is hard to go unnoticed.
Of the many commendable qualities of Metals, lyrically Feist covers a wide range of topic from love ballads that took ten years to write, “Anti-Pioneer,” to songs that reference birds and natures – “Cicadas And Gulls” for instance. Like the “whispers in the grass under slow dancing trees,” the album uses colourful descriptions or intensely personal language for what become poetically intriguing songs.
Artistically speaking, after all that’s what the Polaris Prize is all about, Leslie Feist is combining different and new sounds, the talents of her friends, and of course her own talents both vocally and songwriting wise for a full-bodied and fully praise-worthy record.