Words: Elaine Buckley
Following a debut album which failed to make waves, and a subsequent follow-up - 2004's Let It Die - which didn't quite have the commercial success to match its widespread critical acclaim, it was 2007's The Reminder which proved the breakthrough album for the Broken Social Scene alumnus Leslie Feist. The success of the album was largely attributed to the highly profitable placement of the impossibly catchy '1234' in an iPod Nano advertisement, and it certainly did help - but really, there was SO much more to Let It Die than just that song. It was an album which undeniably set the bar high for whatever would follow down the line - and now, over four years later, Feist returns with Metals, which more than rises to the challenge set by its predecessor.
From the offset Metals is, quite simply, stunning. It opens emphatically with the magnificent 'The Bad In Eachother' - the tale of a conflicted relationship conveyed with pounding drums, an intriguing blues guitar riff, male backing vocals working in perfect harmony with Feist's lead, and a barrage of strings and horns. The gradual build of 'Graveyard' is enthralling – the song's exquisite hook of "Woooahh, bring 'em all back to life…" leading towards a formidable instrumental breakdown. Stripped-back mellow ballad 'Caught A Long Wind' flows incredibly well – Feist's vocals temporarily taking a backseat as acoustic guitar, piano and violin drive the melody. The poignant refrains of 'Bittersweet Melodies' (“I can't go back, I can't go on, both of us singing that same old song”) and the beautifully moving album closer 'Get It Wrong, Get It Right' further exhibit the softer side of Feist at its finest.
If there's a weak point it's 'A Commotion', which feels misplaced on the album's track listing, somewhat overzealous in comparison to what surrounds it. Lead single 'How Come You Never Go There' is hardly the standout track of the album – but it is, essentially, the most accessible and likely to draw attention as a single entity. But really, Metals is the kind of album which needs to be appreciated as a body of work in its entirety – played from start to finish, over and over again.
The impression left from listening to Metals is that Leslie Feist individually crafted every single word and note of the album meticulously – you can almost hear the attention to detail; she has taken her time, and it's been more than worth the wait. Hypnotic, captivating, and at times goosebump-inducing, its depth and beauty - musically, lyrically, and vocally - is astounding. Metals is Feist's finest work to date, and deserving of every ounce of praise which will inevitably come its way.