There’s probably not a person in the English-speaking world who hasn’t heard Feist’s music. Some will be die-hard fans of the lady herself, others of Broken Social Scene, the Canadian mega-group of which she is a part-time member. Yet most of the people who’ve heard her music probably won’t even know who she is. Such is the mixture of blessing and curse which accompanies having one of your tunes used in an Apple advert.
The infectiously positive ‘1234’ is a familiar tune to many, but those unfamiliar with Leslie Feist’s solo output as a whole are sorely missing out.
Mixing an incantatory vocal style incorporating both wistful lyrics and breathy backing vocals with an unorthodox ear for a catchy melody, Feist is neither solely an acoustic-strumming troubadour nor a lung-capacity-defying balladeer, the two standard settings for a female singer-songwriter. The Canadian songstress is not bound by such reductive definitions, creating songs as often filled with lilting vocals and piano as with funky backbeats and orchestral touches.
Her three solo albums to date – 2006’s Open Season was compiled of alternative versions and remixes from her sophomore album Let It Die – have reflected an impressive breadth of talent and interest. Where tracks like ‘1234’ or ‘Mushaboom’ display Feist’s knack for crafting an infectious, optimistic melody, some of her more reflective tracks reveal a more contemplative side.
Metals will be her fourth album, coming an all-too-long four years after 2007’s superb The Reminder, and from the snippets available, it sounds as if Feist’s songwriting gifts have not deserted her. The first single from the record, entitled ‘How Come You Never Go There’, was posted on YouTube late last week, and while the full album isn’t due until October, it offers a tantalising glimpse at what is to come.
In addition to the new single – based upon a typically catchy riff and some wonderful vocals from Leslie herself – Feist’s YouTube channel has also posted a series of black and white shorts, each revealing fragments of the music we can expect to hear on Metals. Advancing what was already a brilliant, uncommon sound through additional orchestration and more electric sensibilities, these early glimpses are more than promising.
Metals is out October 3rd in the UK and 4th in North America.