FEIST Metals (Polydor)
This album, her fourth, is my first listen to Feist, and it’s marvellous. Her music might be favourably compared to, say, Cat Power or PJ Harvey; angsty and knotted but bubbling with invention, putting more art into pop and as shiny, hard and sharp as the title suggests.
It’s not exactly ingratiating music; it demands listener engagement to appreciate its off-kilter sentiments and sounds. “The Bad In Each Other” opens the album with a mismatch of clog-hopping rhythms and sinuous melodies, burbling electronica and sickly, lurching brass. “Graveyard”, the kind of title that suggests “Metals” is unlikely to be much of a party animal, is clangorous and unpretty, chilly but not necessarily cold. The chamber pop of “Caught A Long Wind” is built from cascading tumbles of acoustic guitar and strings, its handclapping chorus teasingly withheld until the end, and “A Commotion” has dimestore Philip Glass string and vocal arrangements pulsing through it. “The Circle Married The Line” is coyly suffused with erotic charge, the aptly titled “Bittersweet Melodies” is simultaneously wistful and warming, whilst “Anti-Pioneer” is spare and uncomfortable, like a Steve Albini production. “Comfort Me” is an itching, prickly portrait of relationship discord, scratched out on a rusty-sounding guitar, but “Get It Wrong Get It Right” closes the album with at least a hint of bucolic redemption.
“Metals” moves slowly and cautiously, but different as each of its twelve songs is to each other they form a satisfying, cohesive whole comfortably outside pop conventions. Give it the time it deserves and you might well find it great.
The vinyl edition of “Metals” arrives with a download voucher and poster. It’s a pretty well produced slab of plastic, although, given its slightly dulled, lo-fi aesthetic, hardly a sonic fireball.