Feist is the official troubadour of the Quirky Girl―you know, the one who always looks impeccable in her carefully-curated vintage-inspired ensemble, has a great Pinterest page filled with projects she can actually do. Hell, even her tote bag is somehow perfect and adorable. She is a magical, mythical creature, and in my heart of hearts, I want to be her every single day.
But alas, I am not cool or quirky. I am old (34). I listen to Steely Dan and Warren Zevon, all of my skirts are black and I have a haircut that can be best described as "’80s Babysitter." So as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get into Feist's recently released fifth studio album Pleasure. One of my many, many shortcomings, I suppose.
I really tried, dear reader, oh, how I tried with this album. I want to like Feist. Pleasure is a lush, dreamy soundscape, littered with an underlying discord, a sense of unease that elevates her out of the manufactured pop landscape she could easily have fallen prey to following The Reminder (2007). Her voice gets into your bones and settles there like a ghost. Her lyrics and arrangements are out of this world, with unexpected touches like a sudden burst of hard rock guitars on "A Man Is Not His Song," the swirling echo of the chorus on "The Wind," or the snark-snap return on "I'm Not Running Away."
But the downside of a soundscape album is that too often, the songs flow too easily into one and other, which makes it hard to differentiate between them. The songs each lack a definitive hook, which makes it difficult to distinguish the standout tracks. Near the end of the album, things pick up, including a rollicking collaboration with Jarvis Cocker ("Century") that sounds positively Kate Bush, but then immediately slides back into atmospheric pop.
Pleasure is an album that needs to be listened to as a whole document, not in bits and pieces. It's a commitment and it's not for everyone, but it's a worthy dive.
Notable Tracks: “A Man is Not His Song” | “Any Party” | “Century”