After 15 years of touring, two full-length albums, some messing around with Broken Social Scene, an iPod commercial and a stint on Sesame Street, Feist has finally found herself, and Metals marks this coming of age.
Feist’s career is spotted with unfortunate attempts to superimpose her voice in uncomfortable contexts. Much to the chagrin of record execs, Feist is not a pop star. And much to the chagrin of Kevin Drew, she’s not really “indie” anymore, either. So what’s a girl to do? After years of trying to be both a pop princess AND an indie queen, Feist has finally realized that she’s actually neither.
So with some help from Chilly Gonzales, her voice has gone in an entirely new direction. Metals is a new groove for Feist. By spearheading a new gloomy, jazz-rock category, this album reinvents her talent. Instead of forcing her bounce and smile like she did on The Reminder, Metals allows some solemnity. No longer is she appeasing the soccer moms, but appealing to an audience that appreciates the sombre, genuine quality of her voice.
The record is sad—very sad—but it also triumphs. Feist’s vocals, which are more accurately described as melodic whispers, are taken to new heights. On “Comfort Me,” she gradually transitions from a diffident songstress into a stadium-sized rock star. Songs like “Woe Be” characterize her long-established humility, and then are counterbalanced with ornate tracks like “Graveyard” and “Cicadas and Gulls.”
The production is absolutely outstanding. It abandons the quirky rhythms of Let It Die, and the cookie-cutter melodies of The Reminder. Instead it relies on pure music: steady drums, simple piano, apposite chamber strings and thoughtful, composed harmonies. It works really well. It suits her, and it suits her voice—more so than anything she’s done in the past.