Feist | Metals

Cherrytree/Interscope (2011)
By RYAN REED  |  October 5, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars


Feist should be making perfect albums every time. The occasional Broken Social Scene vocalist/multi-instrumentalist has one of the loveliest voices in all of pop, and when she bothers to marry those transcendent pipes to colorful backdrops, she's in a league of her own. But Metals, just like her sophomore release, The Reminder, falls short of that promise. Metals packs more sonic punch than its 2007 predecessor, but the problem here is not with recording quality — it's libido. "Cicadas and Gulls" is offensively bland, Feist fingerpicking a beginner's acoustic guitar progression, improvising a half-formed vocal melody. She knows she has a spectacular voice, which is why she's so keen to do songs this stripped-down and rudimentary. But she's never been particularly good at that. Her 2004 debut, Let It Die, was absolutely everything except minimal: a jazzy, ultra-slick sonic orgy where no overdub was unwelcome. Her best loved singles ("Mushaboom," "1,2,3,4," "I Feel It All") are built on full-band layers, and even though The Reminder was as earthy as a Phish concert, the standouts felt immediate and alive, mainly because other people were in the room with her. Her worst songs have always been the most intimate, the ones where it sounds like she's recording by herself in a forest, armed with only an acoustic guitar and the chirping of birds. That streak continues here, far too often. There are exceptions: "Anti-Pioneer" has a brooding, post-rock arrangement that grows and swells with her orchestral backing. "The Circle Married the Line" is the heart-stopping centerpiece, all twinkling glockenspiels, pizzicato pulse, and woodwind flurries. It could easily be the soundtrack to a cathartic Hallmark commercial, but Feist's also one of the only artists on the planet who could make that idea worth pursuing. As for the sleepy, crawling filler? Let It Die, Feist. Let it die.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Broken Social Scene, Phish,  More more >
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