Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Feist’s “Metals,” a connection to outside world


For Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist, “Metals” is a record that chronicles life’s journeys.

It’s a record that feels personal while remaining universal and matter of fact, and one that displays strong emotions without a hint of angst. It is mature and controlled, like a wise shoulder shrug that points at the power and beauty of nature as a reason to never get bogged down in the small details of life, particularly inevitable break-ups.

Orchestral grandeur and tales of climbing mountains set the standard for a work that seems constantly connected to the outside world. It’s been a four year hiatus for Feist, but it seems an apt place to pick up where she left off.

“The Bad In Each Other” is the perfect opener to the album, a blasting beginning that signals a change from the gentler starts of her previous albums. It’s a bold album opener that signals, “I’m back” without a hint of ego.

Instead the song – one Feist likens to “an avalanche” – builds from a raw drum beat that evokes horseback journeys through the West into a string orchestral sweep, a subtle promise of the crescendos to come later throughout the record.

If there ever was a song which should be listened to whilst riding a trusty steed through the West after a passionate break-up, this would be it. The chorus coos “When a good man and a good woman can’t find the good in each other/ Then a good man and a good woman will bring out the worst in each other.” It’s a liberating acceptance of the common battles experienced by the universal lovers of the world.

Foot-stomping moments inspired by the frustrations of romantic relationships crop up multiple times on “Metals,” though the themes of nature and landscape leave a greater imprint on the record. In a way it feels like an ode to the outdoors, perhaps thanks to the journeys taken along the cliffs of the Pacific coast by Feist during the recording of the album in Big Sur, Calif.

The greatest strengths of the album lie in tracks like “How Come You Never Go There,” in which Feist’s vocals meander between assertiveness and gentle consideration, bolstered by a marriage of bluesy melodies and confident brass percussion. “Metals” has certainly shed much of the “poppiness” that defined her 2007 album “The Reminder” and cemented its status as both an advertisement and coffee shop soundtrack go-to. It’s hard to forget the memorable iPod advert which featured “1234” and a fantastic blue sequined jumpsuit.

The result is a stellar album containing 50 minutes of tracks that all deserve their place. Feist knows what she is doing; it took 10 years for the brilliant “Anti-Pioneer” to find a place on one her albums and “Metals” is undoubtedly its rightful home.

Another stand-out track is “A Commotion” which delivers a fast pace and a surprising, yet nonetheless, lovely moment. The instrumentation is interrupted by what sounds uncannily like the plastic kazoos that provided so much childhood entertainment.

The shouting male choir that erupts on this track is telling of the fun that Feist and her long-time collaborators Chilly Gonzales and Mocky had producing the album. The scarcity of completely solo tracks on “Metals” gives away the fact that it is a truly collaborative effort between a group of great old friends.

“Cicadas and Gulls”, is the album’s campfire track and a nod to Americana with plenty of acoustic strumming that can be enjoyed without the fear of an imminent “kumbaya.”

“Comfort Me” picks up from “Cicadas,” delivering the blow “When you comfort me/ It doesn’t bring me comfort actually” in a satisfyingly venting way. It is an aching sentiment that is balanced by the soothing romance of “The Circle Married The Line.” For students who find themselves in last minute paper-writing predicaments, tracks like “Comfort Me” provide the ultimate musical kick up the arse needed in the final hour of a deadline.

This is perhaps the unexpected genius of “Metals.” Its power acts as an accompaniment to the passionate and perhaps terrified laptop keyboard hammering. Slower tracks usher the thought process and the punchier songs provide a motivational slap on the back. Just as “The Bad In Each Other” provided the perfect start to the record, “Woe Be” is its great bookend (for those who bought the album on, a peaceful gospel conclusion, rolling like end credits on an album full of moorish beats and wise words.

Stevie Mackenzie-Smith can be reached at [email protected].

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