i have a question...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Reminder

Feist (full name: Leslie Feist) sounds a little bit like every other girl singer/songwriter out there. She’s Sarah McLachlan when she whispers, Tori Amos when she yowls, and Imogen Heap when she sings to electronica. Somehow, she also sounds like no one else, and her vocal range, both physically and in terms of the genres the album spans, is impressive. Her third album, The Reminder, is smarter and more satisfying every time I listen to it, even though it didn’t grab me right away.

On “So Sorry,” her whimper is McLachlan-esque, if Sarah had as much strength and control as Feist exhibits here. The album then shoots into catchy, bouncy, fully orchestrated “I Feel it All.” It’s the first time we hear how gifted Feist is as a pianist. (For the record, Gonzales is also credited as a pianist on the album.) Throughout the album, they make the piano growl, throb, and sing beautifully along with her, and it is often the star of the songs, second only to her interesting vocals.

“My Moon My Man” is the song that convinced me to buy the album. It is an infectious disco song, and Feist’s incessant purr through it is a brilliant and smartly contrasting accompaniment to the driving piano and drums. The song even features a slap bass and an effect that sounds like the cell phone-radio interference. Appropriately enough, it's featured on a currently-running Verizon commercial.

The piano that opens “The Water” sounds like that which might be featured in a Zero 7 song and an unexpected blues instrumental break electrifies the song past its apparent somberness. “Sea Lion Woman” is an interesting track, a veritable African chant, but with a true rock n’ roll instrumental break. “Past in Present” surprises with its country/rock vibe, complete with wah wah guitar and tinny vocal effect. It’s vaguely Sheryl Crow-esque and unlike anything else on the album. On “The Limit to Your Love,” Feist’s vocal range reaches Bjork’s, and again, the piano becomes the featured player.

“1234” is her current single. It’s pretty much all over the place right now, but I still think it’s lovely. The piano break in the song is killer. It sounds like a Tori Amos piano break but with brass, which makes it even better really. And the video’s pretty adorable too.

The album seems to begin dragging after “1234.” I think “Brandy Alexander,” with only piano, bass, and snaps to keep the beat, is interesting and pretty. But followed by “Intuition” and “Honey Honey,” the minimalism of the tracks begins to invoke boredom. It isn’t until the album’s incredible finale, “How My Heart Behaves,” that it is redeemed again. This song’s full orchestration, including a harp, strikes me as much broader than the rest of the album, more filmic. And it’s amazing what a harmonizing male voice does to deepen a song, when you haven’t heard male voices the entire album.

This album isn’t a homerun, but I think Feist is a gifted and risky vocalist and musician. I didn’t think I liked it this much, until I heard it one more time. I bet I’ll like it even more the next time I listen.

1 comment:

Rachiewrites said...

Wow, the video of 1234 is amazing! I love it!!