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Leslie Feist is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Feist seems to be one of those musicians everyone has heard of but few people actually listen to and enjoy. She's ubiquitous, though; I can't count how many times her songs have been used on TV shows or in adverts and whatnot. The Reminder was her third studio album, released in 2007.
For the past few weeks I've been listening to my old MP3 player, ruthlessly exposing myself to the kind of music I liked about 6 years ago. As my MP3 player is otherwise full of music too mortifying to admit to liking (I hope to God it somehow self-destructs if I die) for all intents and purposes I've basically been listening to her 2 albums, Let It Die and The Reminder, over and over again. This is mostly due to the fact I forced myself long ago to disregard her debut album "Monarch, Lay Your Jewelled Head Down", as it was terrible. Though I mustn't let myself forget the painfully indie song "It's Cool To Love Your Family" it contained under any circumstances. "It's cool, it's cool, to love your family, oh yeah..."
The Reminder has no such love for the Feist clan, thankfully. It opens with total downer "So Sorry", about the regret after an argument ("we don't need to say goodbye / we don't need to fight and cry / we could hold each other tight / tonight"). Feist just mumbles through this in the most unimpressive impersonation of a sad person ever attempted. The only good part of the song is the lyric "no one knows where the shore is / but divide it by the ocean", a compellingly and abstract lyric Feist returns to in another song on this album, suggesting that it's either very personal to her or just that she's terribly pleased with herself. And she should be - to a point - as "I Feel It All" is much better. The song lurches from "I love you more" to "I'll end it all / though you started it", containing probably every emotion known to man all in under 4 minutes, which is faster than I can do literally anything. As a break-up song, it's one you can cry to ("I'll be the one who breaks my heart / I'll be the one to hold the gun") while simultaneously dancing (it has probably the happiest, catchiest melody on the album, with a tinkly loveliness about it).
"My Moon, My Man" is much a perkier song, probably because it's not about love troubles at all. It's easily my favourite. Musically, it is simplistic, almost hypnotically so. It comprises a relentless drumbeat and some nicely buzzy guitar effects with Feist's lovely and ethereal vocals, thankfully free of her try-hard murky whisperings. Lyrically speaking, quite a lot of people on the website songmeanings.net argue about this song being about anal sex. I don't quite know how to feel about that. Rationally, I really don't think it is, but it's quite amusing to think of Feist writing about such squalid perverted filth. (Saying that, couldn't fans have picked on "I Feel It All" instead?) I pretty much like every lyric in this song, and I'm not sure why, as they don't particularly make sense. "My boobs, my face, we're digging a phase, / It's the calendar page again, / Take it slow, take it easy on me, shed some light, shed some light on me please..." Insightful? Who cares, I'm dancing!
"My Moon, My Man" peters out with some weird background noise leading straight to "The Park", which recedes into yet another mumbled abstract Feist song about depression populating a city and making her homeless. Passing the burden of responsibility a bit there, Leslie. (Anyway, she probably wasn't homeless after this album - although I hear her brother still works at a supermarket. If I must remind you, Feist: it's cool to love your family.) Similarly, "The Water" is downbeat and dull. Not even the promise of Feist playing the banjo on this track makes me want to listen to it. If anyone has a higher tolerance for acoustic guitar than I do, then you may enjoy these tracks more.
Unlike her previous album Let It Die, there are no covers here. Still, "Sea Lion Woman" takes a lot of inspiration from Nina Simone. After two mediocre songs, "Sea Lion Woman" is shockingly good. I used to think this song was about selkies, but apparently it's about a high class hooker. I'm not sure how I made that mistake. In hindsight, the song tells the story of a woman's continued love affairs, going from "wink at the man / then stab him in his back" to "smile at the madman / and wake up in his bed". Musically, the instrumental arrangement is memorable even if it is a bit too derivative. I especially like the backing singers chanting "sea lion, sea lion, sea lion woman" and managing to make it affecting instead of stupid. I mean, not once did I imagine a sea lion dressed as a prostitute going about her business during this song, and that's amazing.
"Past In Present" is essentially "I Feel It All" redux (same general tune and theme of reliving happy memories while having to face up to the present), but the part where Feist frantically sings "it's a volcano, it's a volcano, it's a volcano" always makes me smile. (It's probably not a volcano, Feist.) There are worse songs on the album than this - quite a few, really.
Saying that, I wasn't expecting to like "Limit To Your Love", but surprisingly, I really do. The lyrics are pretty strong: "there's a limit to your love / like a waterfall in slow motion / like a map with no ocean". Feist walks the line between showing emotion and sounding incoherent, getting a bit whispery and Regina Spektor at times but not to the extent of ruining the song. It ends with a sting, the surprisingly poignant "...'cos there is no limit, no limit to my love."
"1 2 3 4" is the main single from this album and the most famous song Feist has ever done, possibly along with Mushaboom, as it was used on some iPod advert at the time. In every way it's sweet and gentle, a kind of rose-tinted version of adolescence - "sleepless long nights, that was what my youth was for" / "breaking your heart for those teenage boys" and so on - but at the cost of being incredibly bland. I suppose it doesn't help that I sing the Sesame Street version in my head instead of the real lyrics. "1, 2, 3, 4, now I can count up to 4." It's very difficult to forget that kind of poetic resonance.
"Brandy Alexander" is another painfully adolescent song, but if I am in an indulgent mood, I rather like it; while Intuition is about as irritating as asbestos reading Bruce Forsyth's autocue. Honey Honey appears to be about a woman waiting for her lover to come back: "honey, honey out on the sea / in the doldrums waiting for me / me on dry land thinking of he," and then presumably realising he has died, "honey honey, food for the bees". (Though it's arguable if Feist truly means to suggest he was devoured by bees while at sea.) "How My Heart Behaves" is another irritating pseudo-folk song, so I pretend the album ends with "Honey Honey" (and starts with "I Feel It All").
Between Let It Die and The Reminder, The Reminder is the slightly weaker album. Despite this, The Reminder was much more successful than its predecessor. It was certified 2x Platinum in Canada and Gold in the US, Australia, Austria and France. "1 2 3 4" also won some kind of award for best indie song the same year. (The single version, not the Sesame Street version, which is a damn shame.)
It's not perfect, though. Feist has a real problem with trying too hard, and some of the tracks here reek of a queasy forced quirkiness, especially the vocals (though the Lord knows she isn't as bad as, say, Los Campesinos!, though perhaps it's unfair to compare them as they are both talentless in different ways).
On the one hand, I get the feeling Feist is dying to be experimental (as she did on Let It Die, by singing in French, of all methods), with songs like Honey Honey and Sea Lion Woman, perhaps to earn the recognition of her arty beatnik friends in Broken Social Scene. However, she still studiously stays in between conventional lines when it comes to the singles she releases, perhaps because that's what will please her fans (or her producers). Even so, as soft pop, indie rock or easy listening or whatever genre this is (Wikipedia suggests "baroque pop" - right), I like 9/13 tracks here, so I suppose I can rank this as a successful album. Even after all these years. Excuse me now, as I now have to listen to No Doubt and Madonna and anime music.
The Reminder - Feist
Total Length: 54:31
MP3 Download: £7.49
I like Feist, she's a cool singer, a good writer and a her videos are awesome, some have compared her to Dido, but I would call that a lazy comparison as her music is clearly more orientated to the World Music set than Dido who has good influence from her Brother Rollo and the dance music of his band Faithless.
Feist is part of the excellent band 'Broken Social Scene' as well as being one of Canada's most famous singers, this album was something of a breakthrough for her, thanks in no small part to some clever use of her songs on Apple adverts.
However this album proves that she is a talent who really deserved such attention, as this album is utterly stunning and very original.
So Sorry - This starts with a lilting acoustic guitar that reminds me of Gonzalez, it shows good confidence by Feist in her voice and writing that she's prepared to sing without anything but an acoustic guitar, the song is nice and gentle without really being anything amazing.
I feel it all - This is well known to fans of adverts with its lovely little chorus. The song is a good mix of guitars and triangles, Feist has a lovely voice, I like that it is so melodic but has a real edge to it, I would say her voice is American indie even though I believe she's Canadian, this song reminds me of the film Juno in being quite lo-fi but utterly charming.
My Moon, My Man - This is one of Feist's best known songs with the cool airport video, this is fun and feisty but has a real easy listening vibe, its thoroughly enjoyable and a simple concept with a rhythmic drum backing her beautiful voice and a chorus catchier than Matt Prior on a good day's wicketkeeping for England.
The Park - This is a real lo-fi song, pure guitar and voice, it is a nice tune with a sweet lyrical content and the voice is really beautiful nonetheless its lo-fi nature means it doesn't really stand out at all.
The Water - A nice melodic organ to open this track, it is purely instrumental for a long time and when Feist joins in she sounds like a wounded animal, this is a song filled with understated emotion and actually really hits you hard.
Sea Lion Woman - I like this title, the use of a funky backing chorus and a strange organ noise, this is a weird song with breathy vocals and a fast paced breathless pace, its weird a bit different and ensures the album doesn't remain too slow paced for too long.
Past in Present - I like the guitar on this it does sound a bit like 'I Feel it all' to start with but Feist sounds rockier on this tune, its nice enough but the gentle music means it feels a bit one paced, the clappy chorus is good fun but its a background song for me.
Limit to your love - Soft, slow paced and fitting with this album, this is all about the voice and the lyrics and the strong use of piano really reminded me of Carole King, although Feist has a better voice in my opinion.
1 2 3 4 - This is the catchiest song on the album and known to millions from the I-Pod adverts, this is a great song, Feist sounds gorgeous on this and the chorus is catchy with a nice use of a creaky ukelele as well as some cool voices. The song is so catchy and addictive, it sounds wonderful is something that sticks in your head and is still different enough to not be considered mainstream, this is a lovely lo-fi nursery rhyme with some great instrumentals and the dreamiest voice ever.
Brandy Alexander - With the clicking opening I felt for a moment I was listening to a D'Angelo soul track but this is purely clicking fingers and the beautiful voice of Feist, I really like this song, it builds up gently and if you really listen hard the story of Brandy Alexander is clever and touching.
Intuition - Again this is all about the voice and the lyrics, this is a beautiful song with the great voice of Ms Feist on top form.
Honey Honey - I like this, listen to it two or three times to hear the beautiful textures of the song, with wonderful electric guitars, harps, elegant choruses and a voice in the midst of some kind of weird fit, this is a weirdly beautiful song which recalls BJork for me,
How my heart behaves - A nice chilled out start to finish the album, again Feist sounds a lot like Bjork with her weirdly elegant range, this is a great song, this sums up the album, understated, well produced and perfectly written. Beautiful.
Overall, i think this is a brave album by a really interesting artist, to have the confidence in herself to sing with clicking fingers or acoustic guitars shows a woman utterly confident in her voice and lyrics and rightly so, the songs are well produced and really offer something different. The voice is eloquent and slightly pained and really sounds awesome.
This is not an eclectic album in terms of style but it is interesting in the variation in use of instruments and arrangements, the voice is the key to this album but the musical accompaniment is well thought through on every track.
For people who enjoy strong female singers i'd recommend it, this doesn't have the explosiveness of Patti Smith or PJ Harvey, the smoothness of Norah Jones or the weirdness of Kate Bush or Bjork, but she has elements of all of these singers and is entirely unique for it.
I find this album a treat to return to, its layered with so many different sounds its always interesting to review the whole thing, its chilled out but challenging and exactly what you'd want from your favourite musicians.
Its well worth a listen and at £5.73 on Amazon its a steal.
You may know of Feist from her track 1,2,3,4 in the popualr advert for the ipod nano. As a fan of a huge range of music I was quite suprised to find that Feist had recorded two albums before I had heard of her. So what do we know about Feist or Leslie Feist as she is more formally known.
Leslie Feist was born on February 13, 1976 in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is known as having been in the Canadian Indie band Broken Social scene. She is known for singing, playing the piano, banjo and guitar.
Her third solo album "The Reminder" was released on April 23, 2007 in Europe, and on May 1, 2007 in Canada, the USA and the rest of the world. It was received very well by critics around the world and has won many awards including Juno Awards in 2008 for Pop Album of the Year and for Album of the Year. It has already sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide.
She plays acoustic and electric guitars, piano and banjo on the album and has a writing credit on every song and writes most of the songs on her own but the rest are collaborations with some songwriters who are well known in the genre like Jason Charles Beck who has also written with Peaches.
1. So Sorry 3:11
This starts the album on a nice mellow note. the soft drums and acoustic guitar compliment Feist's clear vocals well. her voice sounds very good indeed even though she is very laid back in this song.
2. I Feel It All 3:39
This is different to the opening track and contains a catchy biting guitar with some pounding drums and some nice piano touches. This is a very flowing track and shows how natural her voice is. A really good track which will have you swaying.
3. My Moon My Man 3:48
This is a nice uptempo track, this has a style like Goldfrapp but the difference is that this is a good track. This will have you dancing around the living room. There's some nice guitar parts which sound very sixties.
4. The Park 4:33
A really lovely ballad which starts with guitar and then her voice comes in after a while. Her voice sound really good and very emotive. One of the best tracks on the album and possibly one of the best tracks of this kind in 2007.
5. The Water 4:46
This is a lovely soft track which starts with a soft piano and double bass intro and Feist's sweet voice sounds so lovely and tender. A really fantastic song which will leave you so relaxed with it's superb calm feel.
6. Sealion 3:39
This track is one of the weaker moments on this album and doesnt have the spark that the best tracks on the album have. It starts well with a catchy beat but carries on a bit too long without changing. by no means a bad track just not one of the best on the album. It is partly a cover of Nina Simone's sea lion woman.
7. Past In Present 2:52
This is a catchy track that loses out as it is a little short at under three minutes. It has a very catchy feel but doesnt have the instant attraction that the best tracks on the album do. Still good though with some nice guitar work.
8. The Limit To Your Love 4:21
This has a very nice piano and guitar intro and her voice joins the two instruments then the soft drums come in. Again she shows off her emotive voice very well and this is a very nice track. It has a very nice string background that is present throught the song.
9. 1234 3:03
This is her most well known track and the star of the Ipod nano advert. It is a lovely ballad which starts with a guitar and then the drums and strings come in. She plays the Banjo in this song and it works really well with the other instruments.
10. Brandy Alexander 3:36
This track has the firmest drum beat of the album and is one of the best tracks on the album. One of the most different tracks she has done and it really works well. A very listenable track indeed.
11. Intuition 4:36
This is a very gentle song that features Feist on the electric guitar, it works really well and is one of the best tracks on the album. the guitar has a great melody that Is a great part of the songs overall worth.
12. Honey Honey 3:26
This is another gentle track which has some nice train horn liike sounds. It is one of the most imaginative tracks on the album and I love the gentle sounds of the guitar and piano which are two key parts to the song.
13. How My Heart Behaves
This is the final track on the album and is a great end to the album. Another soft ballad with her voice sounding so tender and emotive. She has a great tone to her voice. This is a wonderful track which works so well as a final track.
She has a very natural vocal delivery but the best part of her voice is her tone, she has a very sweet vocal tone which makes her voice sound very emotive. She is one of the best singers in this type of music and she has the range to do a lot of things with her voice that makes her stand out from the crowd.
This is a very fine album indeed that loses a star for a few weaker links. There are no bad tracks on the album but they just don't live up to the same high standards that the best tracks on the album do. Still a very fine album though. I will watch out for her in the future as she could be around for a while.
Canadian Leslie Feist first came to attention when she became a member of Broken Social Scene, something which is akin to National Service over there no Canadian artist is truly Canadian until they've had a stint in that supergroup. Broken Social Scene were keen on guitars, and Feist was one of the main guitarists, shunning the spotlight in favour of standing at one side and rocking out. After, she moved to Paris, and recorded her second solo album, 'Let It Die', which sounded vastly different to the guitar rock she was linked to. Here she sang slow stylish numbers, pop, bossa nova - she even released a cover of a Bee Gees song. But one other thing worth noticing: she did it all in style, proving herself to be somewhat tricky to put a finger on.
As an artist with no fingers on her, her third album was rightly anticipated thoroughly by the indie press what would she do? Well, the answer seems, she would refine the sound she created on Let It Die and polish it up a whole bunch, and then completely mess up the ordering of the tracks. As a result, The Reminder' is highly involving and entertaining but then incredibly dull and broken. It's a real mix of the good, the bad and the kinda ploddy on this album, with fun, rocky moments such as "I Feel It All" followed by brilliant pop gems like "My Moon My Man", which lead into dull-as-listening-into-a-wet-tap "The Park". It's a real shame, because when Feist is firing on all cylinders, she's almost untouchable as an artist.
The album starts off with a bluff in the form of "So Sorry", a bluesy country folk riff thingy, which is slow and steady, with bongos pacing out a slow beat whilst Feist sings an apology to a former lover. It's by far one of the better ballads on the album, as "The Park" and "The Water" which bafflingly follow each other are incredibly sparse songs, with Feist sounding agonized in a sonic landscape of nothing. All outdoor sound is wiped out, and in their place are slow sound effects like water running or birds chirping. The songs suffer very much from this, as Feist's voice can grate when there's nothing for her to harmonise with, and "The Park" is, in honesty, terrible. It's when she has her band backing her up that she really flows, though. So far you might think I don't like Feist, but nothing could be further I love the girl. On "1234" her voice is perfectly cast against a banjo, in a song which grows until it becomes a worthy folk-beast, bashing away the competition with vibrant ease. Her take on Nina Simone's "Sealion" sounds fresh and exciting, reinventing the song with new energy.
Her slow songs benefit from having music soundtracking her, such as the downbeat but bass-tastic "Honey Honey", which recurs as the bonus track, a live version recorded in Tornoto, where her full vocal power blazes through. Feist has a very distinctive voice you see, a little like a less throaty Martha Wainwright, which adapts easily into shouty singalongs such as "Past In Present" or slow honey soul pieces like "Brandy Alexander". Her voice is one of her greatest assets, never upstaged by the music around her. On "My Moon My Man", the obvious single, the pop keyboards are toned down by her voice, where she instills the lyrics with a weariness that sounds fresh on a pop song. It's a strange contrast, but then again the album is full of them.
"Intuition" and "The Limit To Your Love" are two more clunkers, but "I Feel It All" is a genuine treat, a quick guitar riff set to words, and Feist's voice goes through the octaves like nobody's business. When she cries out at the end of "The Water", she redeems the song, because her voice seems genuinely pained. And in the end, she pulls the album off, but only just. The main fault lies with the way the album is set up. If the songs had been arranged better, the album would be much more effective, but as it is the whole thing seems jarring. Ballads play one after the other, and songs clash against each other - several songs make no impression, whilst three of four stand out and dwarf the rest of the album. Never good. But it's a genuine shame that The Reminder is as much dud as it is hit, because Feist is sincerely talented (and a bit maverick) but the record leaves you wanting more from her; lucky album number four, perhaps?
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 So Sorry
2 I Feel It All
3 My Moon My Man
4 The Park
5 The Water
6 Sea Lion Woman
7 Past In Present
8 The Limit To Your Love
10 Brandy Alexander
12 Honey Honey
13 How My Heart Behaves
14 Honey Honey