Feist is not Zooey Deschanel. Sure, her song “Mushaboom” might have been featured in the latter’s film 500 Days of Summer and her hit “1234” was in an infectious commercial for Apple’s iPod nano, but the Canadian singer’s latest album proves that she is more than a simple folk-pop artist with a penchant for catchy and upbeat tunes.
The monumental success of 2007’s The Reminder is a tough act to follow. It took Feist four years to pump out Metals, which was released by Cherrytree/Interscope Records to eagerly awaiting fans. Unlike some artists who change their sound to suit mass audiences, Feist seems to have returned to her folksy roots. Although she has been an on-and-off member of Broken Social Scene since 2002, Metals is not a product of her time with that band nor does it seem to follow the trajectory of her past two albums, The Reminder and Let It Die (2004).
Instead, as the cover art might indicate, Metals is reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World or the vast Wyoming landscapes in the movie Brokeback Mountain. Feist brings a darker and more contemplative feel to her work, and while much of the album veers on the depressing, the singer is still able to retain the hopeful melodies that made her endearing to listeners all over the world. “Graveyard” and “How Come You Never Go There” exemplify this duality with velvety vocals yet melancholy lyrics.
There’s a certain beauty to Feist’s voice, which is made all the more haunting in songs such as “Anti-Pioneer” and “Cicadas and Gulls.” The album maintains its cohesiveness because of the overriding naturalistic influences in every track. Even though Metals was recorded in Big Sur, California, and Toronto, it could have easily been inspired by the sweeping vistas of the Midwestern prairies or the bare deserts of the Southwest.
Metals is a simple album for difficult times. Without unnecessarily complicating the instrumentality or the melodies, Feist manages to offer us something that conveys the inner turmoil of today’s generation. Her newest release might disappoint those who were expecting a repeat of her previous work, but for people who are looking for something a little deeper, Metals is a malleable album that will fit what you’ve been looking for.
– Hiromi Oka, host of The Hoya Hipster Hour, Saturdays 12am-1am on WGTB