The phrase ‘something for everyone’ is unconditionally followed by a bitter sigh of disappointment somewhere in the world. Just as ‘suits every occasion’ always falls short eventually, and ‘one size fits all’ will always play sleeping-bag spaciousness to someone else’s asphyxiation via sausage-skin fabric.
Us humans are a tricky bunch to please. Sometimes we want to be in the crowd, other times we want to be one step ahead of it. Therefore, making music everyone likes that can be played everywhere is often beyond the realms of possibility. Leslie Feist clearly has the Midas touch. After a false start with ‘Monarch’ in 1999, Feist has danced where others dare not tread, and as a reward found commercial success and critical acclaim indirectly allied. Four years on from ‘The Reminder,’ and her five Grammy wins she returns with the all-encompassing ‘Metals.’
Opening with ‘The Bad in Each Other’ Feist teasingly wavers into her unique brand of Baroque Pop. Maintaining her lyrically direct and musically experimental trademark, she appears more vocally assertive than ever before. Graveyard’ is a hopeless Romantics mourn of lost love. Crystalized serenity, it darts over the sinister leaving only ethereal, an excellently subtle brass arrangement is layered over mounting sirenic calls. Veins may be ice, but the full-choral finale calls of ‘Oh ah oh oh bring them all back to life,’ is a definite blood sibling to ‘1,2,3,4.’
‘Caught in a Long Wind’ awards ‘Metals’ with 2011’s best use of session musicians. An enchanting chime and cowboy blues opening, it is the dramatic result of trapping a symphony in a farmhouse. Feist has an untouched ability to appear simple and intricate simultaneously, and it certainly matches ‘Brandy Alexander’s’ winsome delicacy.
Malleable single ‘How Come You Never Go There’ is the most obviously pop record, but the organic hook at it’s core unpredictably lingers rather than flows, acting as the perfect warm up to ‘A Commotion.’ Panting repetition and a raucous chorus, ‘Metals’ will take you from motionless lagoon to tsunami in the blink of an eye. The brilliance of Feist is her fearless lacing of the rough with the smooth. ‘The Circle Married the Line’ is a purr of tranquility and charm, Feist’s vocal ability will warm and simply amaze. However, heartbreak quickly reappears with ‘Anti-Pioneer,’ wrapped in percussion and sorrowful strings it relays the utter loss and ‘what now?’ moment after a relationship breakdown.
Timeless, seasonless and dependable, Feist has once again produced something that is fusible to Grammy shortlist, Rom-Com soundtrack and coffee shop playlist alike. But that truly doesn’t matter. Wherever ‘Metals’ is heard its artistry will conduct the same reaction, simply because it is a record too brilliant to be ignored.