Canadian singer Feist rose to mainstream success with for her 2007 breakout hit “1234,” which managed to pop up in iPod commercials and even Sesame Street. Her 2007 album, “The Reminder,” masterfully balanced infectious pop hooks with a folk influence. On “Metals,” the eagerly awaited follow-up to “The Reminder,” Feist throws that successful formula away in favor of something darker and more layered, yet ultimately rewarding.
There are no instantly infectious hits like “1234” or “I Feel It All” to be found on “Metals.” Instead, the majority of these songs are very slow buildups to climatic, yet quiet outbursts. For instance, opener “The Bad in Each Other” starts off sounding like something straight out of a saloon in the Old West, yet builds to a multi-instrument full-body-swaying jam.
Songs like “Bittersweet Melodies” and “Comfort Me” sound both refreshingly familiar and engagingly new. In essence, that is the appeal of Feist. Her brilliantly pure, soft-spoken vocals sound like they could be from any time, yet her music is always progressive, while staying true to its folksy and jazzy roots. One of the biggest triumphs here is “Anti-Pioneer,” an emotional ballad that bursts into a string-heavy climax, carried by Feist’s haunting voice.
Perhaps the most unique song here and the biggest departure from the rest of the album is “A Commotion,” which features frantic, pulsing piano chords set to sonic booms, building to a poppy chorus. It will undoubtedly be the most divisive song on the album, but stands as a clear indicator of Feist’s fearlessness in trying new things as an artist.
Those expecting instantly accessible pop hooks like those on “The Reminder” may be disappointed with “Metals.” Feist does not sound like she is setting out to make what will sell though. Instead, she has rediscovered her roots, and seems determined to keep her music pure and from the heart. This denial of her natural ability to craft catchy hooks ultimately does make the album less exciting, and sometimes a bit duller than her previous efforts. Much like Feist’s voice, “Metals” is dark, soulful, a little imperfect and bursting with emotion.