After becoming so improbably iPod-famous that even Elmo asked her to come out and play, Leslie Feist did what any normal person would do: unwind by spending two solid years in hiding. During this extended sojourn away from the public eye, she also claims to have forgotten how to play her own tunes, which is likely the central basis for the songwriting reinvention heard on her fourth album.
Metals is a supreme grower: A dark, moody and, at times, even eerie treatise on the mysteries of the natural world. It’s the sound of Canada’s biggest indie starlet reconnecting with the land. But starting over demands sacrifice: Feist’s trademark sunny melodies and twinkling folk-pop riffs have disappeared, and they’re replaced by a slow-burning, atmospheric succession of songs that make for some of the most artful concoctions Feist (along with collaborators Mocky and Chilly Gonzales) has dreamed up to date.
Metals surely isn’t the album Feist’s fan base will expect, nor perhaps even the one they desire, but as in the forest itself, an enduring career occasionally requires cutting away what appears to be flourishing to make way for future growth. By elegantly ratcheting up the drama of her sound, Feist is now free to continue reaching skyward.
Playlist Picks: “Graveyard,” “A Commotion,” “The Circle Married the Line”