Feist’s new album takes a lo-fi production approach, and might not be quite what you’d expect if you’re like me and only really know The Reminder. In parts, it is sonically similar to Crush Songs by Karen O. Named Pleasure, the new album is nominally deceptive, as Feist has described the record’s themes as including “emotional limits … loneliness, private ritual, secrets, shame, mounting pressures, disconnect, tenderness, rejection, care and the lack thereof.” Maybe the album art is reflective of this, as it shows Feist being unable to get through the door marked ‘Pleasure’.
The opening track, ‘Pleasure’ is a wonderful musical rhapsody, starting quiet and mellow and building into mass hysteria at the end. I love the exposed, pared-back sound of the guitar here, and lyrical exploration of the elusiveness of happiness as a ‘mysterious thing’ and playing devil’s advocate when she poses the assertion ‘It’s my pleasure, it’s my pleasure, that’s what we’re here for!’. It’s an incredibly strong start, for sure.
‘I Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ is another melancholy song, but the honesty and sincerity of Feist’s singing is hard to dislike. Suppressed anger and frustration is expressed through lyrics such as, ‘I felt some certainty that you must have died/ Because how could I live if you’re still alive?’, with the title of the song sung in a quieter, breathless afterthought. ‘Baby Be Simple’ takes on a similarly moving approach, with Feist leaving it unclear whether she is describing a relationship with herself or one with someone else.
Other songs in the album are less distinctive, but delve deeper into the core of the album, as an exploration of feeling and some emotions which are harder to express, especially ‘Get Not High, Get Not Low’ and ‘Lost Dreams’.
‘Any Party’ is my favourite song from this album, maybe because it’s the only one that’s vaguely happy, but the chorus is very memorable. My only criticism is that perhaps it should have appeared at the end of the album! I love the introduction of other singers towards the end of the song, and the whole concept of the song is really lovely. (I’m bad at writing about things that I really like).
The album livens up in a similar way during ‘Century’, as Feist steps up some rhythm. The song is almost existential, with meanings left open to interpretation. I think this track is a real high point in the album, although I’m still undecided about whether Jarvis Cocker’s cameo is really good or really awful.
Unfortunately, a few songs fade into the background and are less memorable, but perhaps they are songs that grow on you with time. Lyrically, the entire album is impeccably formed and wonderful. A real jewel which, in time, has the potential to be as good as ‘The Reminder’.