Oct 05, 2011 Web Exclusive
Leslie Feist's first album since 2007's breakout The Reminder feels closer in spirit to 2004's quieter, slower Let It Die. The Reminder's energetic pop doesn't make much of an appearance on Metals, as Feist instead turns to jazz for a musical foundation. The first single, "How Come You Never Go There," swings with a sleepy beat, and it's this sleepiness, more suitable to a cocktail lounge than a rock stage, that separates Metals from the passionate display found on The Reminder. "How Come You Never Go There" is indicative of what Metals delivers: a high level of technical proficiency, wonderful musicianship and lyrics, Feist's appealing persona and incredible voice, and a series of lukewarm songs.
Metals opens with a fine one-two punch of "The Bad in Each Other" and "Graveyard." The latter displays Feist's supple vibrato doling out some of her fabulous "whoas" and "ohs" and the chant-along chorus, "Bring them all back to life." As with most of the album, the backing is sparse, simple piano chords, occasional horns—none of it very intrusive. The insistent guitars and hand-claps that open "The Bad in Each Other" provide some of the album's clearest thrills as Feist's voice soars around them, "We had the same feelings/At opposite times."
From there, however, Metals finds a groove that falls somewhere between mid- and low-tempo (except the misstep "A Commotion," which feels a lot like being yelled at) and places most of the emphasis—and nearly all the weight—on Feist's vocals. The energy isn't there, and the insistence is absent. Feist has a gorgeous voice, and it deserves the attention, but there's not enough to work with. For stretches, she succeeds, most notably on the lovely "The Circle Married the Line" ("All we need is a horizon line/Get some clarity/Follow the signs"), but for long periods, Metals is a little dull. It's a lovely collection of songs, but there's simply not enough happening to carry an entire album. One expected more after four years of waiting. (www.listentofeist.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 8/10