By Abby Ott, Staff Writer
Feist’s new album, “Metals,” begins with clapping, stomping and other ambient sound. Then the electric guitar begins and Leslie Feist’s distinctive voice sings over the beat on “The Bad in Each Other.” Soon after, stringed and brass instruments are incorporated.
The first song immediately informs you that Canadian singer and songwriter Feist has done something incredible. It is a far cry from “1234,” her biggest hit from “The Reminder,” Feist’s second album. It appears she put away the bright and young sound familiar to her listeners, showing progress in her arrangement and composition from previous records in her fourth album, “Metals.”
“Metals” has jazz and blues undertones, and the album’s sound varies throughout each of the songs. The album beckons the listener to sit and contemplate what they are hearing because the melodies are so complex.
Her band is showing personality like never before. It is apparent she has been playing with them for some time because of the unity shown throughout the album—they appear to be playing perfectly together. She produced “Metals” with Chilly Gonzales, Mocky and Valgeir Sigurðsson — individuals she has worked with on previous albums.
Like a thesis to a good paper, each song has a defining moment. Feist’s voice appears effortless and elicits a feeling of weightlessness to the listener.
Some of her tunes have a vibe similar to folk band Fleet Foxes, but they are still characteristic and original to Feist, especially as the brass makes its entry in many of the songs Her melodies sound organic and create a naturally grown feeling when heard, like she found them on a walk through the countryside.
The second song, “Graveyard,” has a slow and distinct drum sound and Feist’s voice is quiet, yet powerful. “Caught a Long Wind” is beautiful — down tempo and profound, as if she is a bird crooning passionately. It has ambient environmental sounds, combined with piano and percussion. The song’s intensity grows as time passes, coming to a tense point with only a violin. Then clapping begins and Feist’s strong voice pierces the quiet.
The first song she released, “How Come You Never Go There,” feels jazzy, and begins with backup singers. On her website, a video accompanies the song where a silhouette of someone is dancing in the left corner, smooth like Michael-Jackson moving in slow motion. It was the perfect preview to the album—showcasing the feel of the entire album.
The next song, “A Commotion,” is a total contrast from “How Come You Never Go There.” It has an abrupt sound, and there is loud chanting before the chorus. It begins with a tense reverberation created by stringed instruments. Feist sings high notes perfectly, which contrasts the harshness of the song’s sound.
Next, in the “The Circle Married the Line,” Feist sings of unity and balance. The song flows well, and is more positive than the previous song.
“Cicadas and Gulls” and “Comfort Me” sound acoustic but, of course, there are surprises. It sounds as if “Cicadas and Gulls” was recorded in a room with perfect echo. At the end of “Comfort Me” a choir joins Feist and vocalizes with her while the drum beat picks up.
A distinct blues undertone permeates “Anti-Pioneer,” and Feist’s voice sounds fairly sad. Once a piano is incorporated, the song becomes more elegant while the stringed instruments make it dramatic.
In “Undiscovered First,” an electric guitar whines, a tambourine chimes in and Feist harmonizes. On this track, Feist’s voice is not as pretty as it is on other -more- songs. Soon after, a chorus of women joins her, which is both shocking and theatrical. The choir and its harmonies add mysticism to the song, since their voices are ethereal, yet strong, consistent with the title and lyrics.
Throughout the entire album, many different sounds, melodies, moods and ideas are explored. “Metals” is Feist like you have never heard her before.