Following up a stunning debut album is hard enough. What do you do when you’re Leslie Feist, Canadian music legend of the Arcade Fire variety, member of Broken Social Scene (the two things possibly going hand in hand), you’re Grammy, Juno, Brit and Apra award nominated and victorious, the voice behind the song that made Apple’s iPod Nano ad the biggest thing for the company since dancing silhouettes biggest thing since dancing silhouettes, and your most recent, third album, four years back started selling like 73,000 hotcakes a week as a result back in 2007? Why it’s almost so obvious it hurts. Take four years off, deprive a market that was so hyper-saturated with your kooky pop blend that a quick follow-up could easily have brought about career death by over-exposure and then come back to that same audience, now baying for new material, with your A-game.
2007 was undoubtedly a huge year for the artist whose first album ‘Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down)’ was a commercial and critical failure. ‘Mushaboom‘ off 2004’s follow-up ‘Let It Die’ cut through with peculiar factor but the value of a global Apple campaign for your musical brand cannot be understated. It’s against this backdrop that I’ve been fairly impressed with Feist’s softly-softly approach to continuing the super-selling legacy of ‘The Reminder’. Perhaps even more intriguing is Feist’s choice of comeback single (it’s hardly a comeback if you’ve never gone). Announcing her return to the scene – which, a number of sources inform me, will be greeted with the enthusiasm of a hundred thousand teenage girls’ screams – with a slow-burner was a brave move. Probably now even more than in 2007, the music press (mea culpa) churns through fads – and their artist spokespersons – at an alarming rate. Feist’s return being simply overlooked by this machine could well have proved fatal.
Needless to say, the likelihood that any Leslie Feist release was ever going to slip under the radar is pretty nominal. ‘How Come You Never Go There?’ is a resounding answer to those who might have questioned her extended hiatus as much as it is a sultry step in a potentially new direction. A slow drum beat, some now telltale tinkling on the keys, a languid solo around the one minute mark and the sort of husky brilliance that got her to where she is underpin what is an entry into sexier territory for the queen of quirk. The track skirts around the threat of staying in low gear for too long, building to a climax when those mellow vocals melt away, replaced by higher, sharper rebukes for a misbehaving significant other. Almost self-conscious that she’s spoken out, Feist returns to more timid waters to see the song out, lending it a certain charming, circuitous character. Refined, intelligent and atmospheric, it’s fantastic to hear such a stirring 5 after a remarkable 1, 2, 3, 4.
Feist – How Come You Never Go There?
New album ‘Metals’ out in October. Listen to Feist.