Thursday, May 03, 2007

Feist--The Reminder (2007)

Album-The Reminder
Release Date-May 1, 2007
Genre/Style-Indie Electronic/Indie Rock

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Review-When Leslie Feist released her breakthrough Let It Die, almost instantly she became an indie icon. Her pretty, sometimes melancholic love songs, her clear, campfire voice, and her vaguely jazz- and disco-influenced arrangements (highlighted no better than with her cover of the Bee Gees' "Inside and Out"), and her association with darlings Broken Social Scene wooed critics and music fans alike. Her follow-up, The Reminder, will serve as proof that Feist's success was no fluke, as the album contains more of the same sweet, introspective lyrics and chords that float around love and longing (or lack thereof) like cottonwood seeds in late spring. Because that's what The Reminder, like Let It Die, is really: warm, lazy music made for those summer afternoons that creep into evening before you realize it. Feist's voice is as cleanly emotive as ever as she sings lines like "There's a limit to your love/Like a waterfall in slow motion" (from "The Limit to Your Love"), "Piecemeal can break your home in half/A love is not complete with only heat" (from "Intuition"), or "Put your weight against the door/Kick drum on the basement floor" (from the upbeat "I Feel It All"), confident but with a weakness, a fragility in it that comes out during the most sentimental lines. But this can also be a drawback. The singer can, at times, border on a kind of sappiness that seems better suited to Top 40 Matrix-produced pop songs than hipster-blog accolades. "We don't need to fight and cry/We, we could hold each other tight tonight," she breathes in the otherwise lovely "So Sorry," whose puerile rhymes are fortunately held up by the track's breezy sophistication. The same cannot be said however for "Brandy Alexander," which is too syrupy for its own sake (much like the drink on which it is based), with its repeated phrase "He's my Brandy Alexander" (juxtaposed with "I'm his Brandy Alexander") and "Goes down easy," as Motown-esque harmonies jump in to emphasize that last word. Why Feist, who shows her lyrical skills in tracks like "The Water," "My Moon My Man," and her reinterpretation of Nina Simone's "See-Line Woman" (incorrectly identified as "Sea Lion Woman"), "Sealion," believes it necessary to include such saccharine lines is a bit confusing, and hints at the suspicion that while undoubtedly she seems to have enjoyed very much making The Reminder, she also wasn't really challenging herself with it. She follows the same path she took with Let It Die — which, being as strong as it was, is certainly not the worst decision she could've made — and does it well, which means that the album does end up a consistently good listen. But it also means that it's not much of a departure from what she's shown before. Who knows, Feist may be able to go on charming us by doing the same thing for eternity, but there may also come a point when we want something more, and it's still unclear if she'll be able to deliver that.

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