Album Review: ‘Metals’ by Feist

If Woodstock had a summer of love one night stand with Lilith Fair, their illegitimate lovechild would sound exactly like Metals, the third LP by Canadian artist Feist, released October 4. In her first album since her 2007 breakout The Reminder, Leslie Feist has reminded us that our neighbors to the North do have some good things to offer, and that the line between pretty pop and indie rock is better when it’s blurred.

Each of the 13 songs contain beautifully written melodies and none resemble the hit single “1234” of iPod ad fame – and that’s a good thing. Metals shows Feist stepping away from the commercial viability of her previous hit record as she (at last) gets a little feisty.

Drum-driven rock number “The Bad In Each Other” opens the album with a guitar line eerily reminiscent of Led Zeppelin during the Zeppelin II era. It quickly morphs into a Hall & Oates style funk/blues/jazz song sounding like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant covering “Sara Smile,” which isn’t as weird as it sounds.

The rest of the album is just as oddly awesome. “Caught a Long Wind” seems to be Feist’s version of “Colors of the Wind.” It’s got some incredible native sounds that would make fellow Canadians A Tribe Called Red tear up in joy.

“How Come You Never Go There” is like the duet that Janis Joplin and Sarah McLachlan never got to record. It’s bluesy, beautiful and just as tear jerking as those “Angel” ASPCA commercials. “A Commotion” is the definition of “organized chaos” and would probably sound pretty cool in a mash-up with The Gaslight Anthem’s “Great Expectations.” And speaking of duets/mash-ups, I’m fairly certain “AntiPioneer” could incorporate an incredible collaboration with B.B. King. Are you listening Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony planners?

While most albums in the Age of iTunes have plenty of “filler” spacing out their handful of hit singles, Metals’ strength lies in its refusal to allow any one song to inordinately define its character. In the most refreshing move since the Avett Brothers’ And Love And You, each song on this album could itself be a single, potentially acting as aesthetic or conceptual inspiration for an entirely different album. Case in point: “The Circle Married the Line” could either be the first song of a great Shel Silverstein concept album (kidding…kind of. This should really be a thing, so get on it, Feist) or just a great ballad about love in the face of hardship that stands on its own.

Metals is a lyrically emotional journey along Feist’s personal Eight Fold Path. It’s an album for the disillusioned – it could be the soundtrack of the Occupy Wall Street movement if it were angrier – and offers a calming reflection on life and love (but not in the cheesy Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond kind of way). There are no Mandys or Sweet Carolines, just Leslie Feist, her words and her poignant vocal range, ingredients that make for some fantastically poetic compositions. More than just an album, Metals is an experience – like that scene in Almost Famous where Zooey Deschanel leaves a note to her younger brother (Patrick Fugit) that reads, “Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you’ll see your entire future.”

Despite the chaotic world we inhabit in 2011, this Feist record may also hold soothsaying power:

Listen to Metals by the glow of your iPhone and you’ll see your entire future in HD.

Do you think Metals is an adequate follow-up to Feist’s last album The Reminder?

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