During her days with Broken Social Scene, Leslie Feist’s voice was the brilliant change of pace, change of tone, change of breathy beauty that gorgeously delivered magnificent moments. The band was at its finest when everyone’s singular traits were called upon for equally singular moments that couldn’t be matched by anyone else. Feist’s vocals – her delivery, her channeling of great vocalists, her unique attack and release – were always intriguing, let alone beguiling. On The Reminder she flashed stellar muscle with solid songwriting and now on Metals the Canadian singer-songwriter may have just created her best album to date.
The point of Broken Social Scene and Feist’s latest album is the way her voice is able to, finally for some, find a lush orchestration to match its own distinctively great flavor. While Feist’s voice isn’t nearly as outlandish as some of her counterparts, it’s definitely a beautiful blend of aesthetic wonders and with songs like “7/4 Shoreline,” she was able to get wrapped up in the blissful blend of instruments around her. While The Reminder had songs with subtle touches like “I Feel It All,” on Metals Feist combines the sublime magic of her voice with songs that feature equally strong compositions to render an album that is easily one of the best of the year.
Here the music that Feist has crafted is defined by its ability at constructing driving chords of amazing composure. On “Caught A Long Wind” the piano is able to lie underneath Feist’s voice as she sings about growing old and moving into a cold, frigid territory; while the music adds layers of texture around her, the same swirling melody encompasses the walls of the song. Although one of the most amazing moments of the album has just passed (“Graveyard”), there’s a fantastic fusion of music happening throughout. There’s percussion and there’s also the unsettling strings that support Feist’s voice as it ranges from highs to lows with calming ease. She seems to channel everyone from PJ Harvey to Christine McVie to Kate Bush with decisive proficiency. And speaking of the aforementioned song, on “Graveyard” the masterful concoction of the sounds and how the melody is foreshadowed in Feist’s lulling tones before the choir of bellows comes at the end is something to behold.
What beyond doubt makes everything on the album resonate with deep impact is Feist’s stunning vocals. Sincerely poignant and dynamically full of range, it’s definitely her voice that commands the most attention and thus, is the true star of the show. On “Woe Be” she backs her own leading melody with harmonies sung by her voice and backed by a sole lonely guitar, Feist’s careful cadence and strong presence creates a chilling sense. But even at her quietest, the ensuing “Comfort Me” shakes the balance up with mesmerizing, choir-like chants that well, comfort, with soothing tones. Songs take shape around her leading lines and sometimes the melody swells into soaring heights through the skillful composure of the vocals.
For some, Feist hasn’t sounded this good in a while, for others, she sounds the best we’ve ever heard her. On “Graveyard” she sings “Bring them all back to life,” with such amazing fortitude and as the music travels through the instrumental breakdown, it serves as one of Metals’ defining moments. The song is decorated well – horns and voice in discord and dissonant moods before the pounding drums lead to an exceptional breakthrough – all the ghosts she’s channeling have certainly come back to life.