Album Review: Feist – Pleasure

The Canadian singer-songwriter returns with a raw, emotionally filled sixth album.

Feist Pleasure

It’s been six years since Lesley Feist, otherwise known as Feist, released her fourth studio album Metals, a rich percussion based album that earned critical acclaim as a whole album. This year sees the Canadian indie pop singer songwriter release her fifth studio album, Pleasure, an album that projects yet another, enriched side to the singer.

Feist has always remained a mysterious artist. Restricting herself from the majority of media and enlarging her appetite for creativity with a variety of projects, Pleasure seems like an avenue in which she allows her fans to see the more personal side to her life. This can be seen clearly through the choice to cut back instrumentally, none so more than in Baby Be Simple, a tender acoustic moment that allows Feist’s imagination to flow within her lyrics.

There’s an inherent sense of rawness throughout the album, one that contrasts heavily with previous album Metals, which allows people to connect instantly. Opener and title track Pleasure is a PJ Harvey styled track, sensual and carnal, which takes intimate and haunting vocals before a wild staccato guitar line kicks in. It’s atmospheric whisper of a second verse later builds to something more sparse and urgent and is the first taste of the album’s DIY sounding recording style. More Lo-Fi than any previous album, the effect it has on Pleasure is huge, allowing the album to seem more personal and emotional, retaining the raw quality of Feist unlike ever before.

Emotional vulnerability and expression is embedded deep within the new record, with Get Not High, Get Not Low detailing the atmosphere around mood swings. The changing vocals highlight the singer closing off to the world before opening up again whilst the chorus swirls along with sudden changes to the drum pattern, further highlighting the artist’s expression of emotion. I’m Not Running Away is a torn, blues styled track in which lyrics “I wouldn’t be telling the truth / If I don’t admit that I depend on you” signal her personal instabilities. Another blues based track is I Wish I Didn’t Miss You, which lament upon the feelings surrounding a broken relationship. The sharp guitar and distorted vocals break up the track and sets the tone of the album as one more sporadic than flowing.

2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival - Day 2

There’s a distinctive return to nature within the album, with various tracks highlighting the hidden beauty that’s lost to many in the ever growing world. The atmospheric, dreamlike state of Lost Dreams and the contrasting A Man Is Not His Song both choose to distinguish reality from another space whilst The Wind is a direct ode to the natural world. For many, the inclusion of nature is a direct comparison to the stripping back of the album for Feist but whilst lyrically rich, there are moments however in which these tracks demand more in terms of musicality. The stripped back nature of the tracks within the album give off the vulnerability that Feist wants to portray but sacrifices bite, which after a while becomes too similar.

It is, however, the internal strength within the singer’s lyrics that propel Feist to a new level. Young Up is a reflection upon growing up and getting older with lyrics “I got tired before I noticed I was done” adding a morbid, finite tone to the track. Any Party is a beautiful alternative folk love song, that relays intimacy and partnership perfectly whilst Century sees the Canadian singer return to the PJ Harvey styled track that started the album of in the first place. An aggressive message of defiance against endless time, the track’s forceful guitar and drum combination build before cutting out to Jarvis Cocker’s guest spot. The Pulp frontman relays a sombre monologue on the detailing of time itself which in his usual style, provides an alternative, almost philosophical twist to the track.

Pleasure is Feist’s most developed complete work, taking rock and roll and internal intimacy and combining the both to make something raw and personal. The album is a constantly changing landscape and one that carries enough quality lyrically and emotionally to define the album as her most honest and well-crafted album to date.

7/10

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