So sleepy is Feist’s latest over-prized long player, Metals, that one wonders if perhaps she’s a somnambulist as well as a songwriter. Her flimsy alto and delicately designed arrangements would better suit a twee template instead of the reflective rhyming that edges her closer and closer into adult-contemporary waters. Feist may be the heir to the Sarah McLachlan mantle, as evidenced throughout Metals many boring missteps.
“Graveyard” and “The Circle Married the Line,” for instance, contemplate jazzy jerks and quirks like a Norah Jones-style torch song or a Diana Krall carol. Why this hasn’t enraged fans of Feist’s Peaches stymie or Broken Social Scene sidestep escapes me, but so be it. If Feist feels the need to cop out into conventional directions, she’s more than welcome to do so. But it seems ridiculous that the indie darling of a few years back would “re-invent” herself in such run-after and middling fashion.
To be fair, Metals isn’t all misspent but nor is it a rarefaction as some might suggest. It has typically strong production from Chilly Gonzales and Mocky, emphasizing a vast and panoramic pastoral feel on some of the stronger tracks, as on “Cicadas and Gulls” and “Anti-Pioneer.” It’s in these instances that her homespun indie folk and whispered vocal delivery belies an emotional honesty absent throughout most of the rest of the album.
In a few other places on Metals, as on “A Commotion,” there are some orchestral flourishes and a glee club of male voices that surprisingly sweeten and strengthen proceedings, as does a scalding saxophone. It’s a shame there wasn’t more moments like this on the LP.
“How Come You Never Go There” needles at the ear with it’s neo-bop sentiment and contemporary jazz flatness, as trite as rain at a drippy recital.
It’s possible, I suppose, that creating such populist fare, mediocre as this, is an irreverent gesture on Feist’s behalf, a sort of “up yours” to the mountain—a raspberry blown in the face of social graces—that she can do as she chooses. But it plays more to me like an artist settling down into ennui and routine and perhaps a pothole. Clearly Feist doesn’t seem worth her mettle.