Feist delivers her muse’s wish in Pleasure (Interscope Records/Universal Music Canada) her fourth full-length album. Co-produced with longtime collaborators Renaud Letang and Mocky and recorded over three months in Stinson Beach, Upstate New York, and Paris, Pleasure breaks the award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter’s six year hiatus.
Following up from her Polaris Prize-winning last album, Metals, Pleasure builds on Feist’s intuitive depth as an artist. Through haunting vocals, ambient samples and percussive, quixotic guitar licks Feist, once again, draws her listener into her world of genius musings, self-reflection, and musical co-creation. She comforts us, while pulling at us in unexpected ways. Her portrait in the press release fittingly recalls Frida Kahlo, another pioneering, raw artist.
Pleasure is sparser than Feist’s last two albums, with a greater sense of space and reflective pacing. Playful, percussive vocals build on newer, harder themes – an echo of what Feist explored in Metals. She touches upon so many musical styles it’s aurally fascinating. Whispers of African guitar, the Blues, Neil Young, as well as Feist’s roots as a singer in a Calgary punk band can be traced throughout the 11 songs.
The water-themed lyrics, lush vocal harmonies and ambient samples on “Get Not High, Get Not Low” along with the deep bass guitar, steady percussion and warmth of “The Wind” recall Feist’s older repertoire. Her guitar picking on “Get Not High, Get Not Low” and quirky vocals in “A Man Is Not His Song” is refreshing. Feist’s singing at the end of “Pleasure” and, to a lesser extent, “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” “Any Party” and “I’m Not Running Away” have a Peaches-esque vibe to them while her vocal distortion in “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” is hypnotic. “Lost Dreams” floats between a slowed down African guitar lullaby to a rock infused climax. The sing-along chorus at the end of “Any Party,” and sample of “Pleasure” blaring from a car passing by, gives the listener a window into a the life of Leslie Feist.
Feist’s raw arrangements in Pleasure bring a more exploratory departure from her previous albums with an edgier vision and endless layers of discovery interspersed with her usual nod to Mother Nature. Pleasure is spell-binding.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: FEIST – PLEASURE