You have to see her in the flesh to realise it, but Leslie Feist is probably an even more unique guitarist than she is singer. This is saying a lot, given that the Canadian has soundtracked an entire generation of iPod users and bonfire dwellers with that voice, which has followed her from Broken Social Scene through to five solo albums. As she’s matured, the thrilling, axe-wielding aspect of the woman known as Feist has started to get more and more airtime. It’s nowhere more noticeable than on her latest record, Pleasure, chock full of white hot solos, quick about turns and whoops of pain and glee. There are a number of songs that stick for various reasons, and yet, it’s ‘Any Party’ that lingers. A symbiosis of the Feist that many casual listeners associate with breezy, folky ditties and the gutsy rock and roller that she’s actually always been, it’s a ballad that manages kicks arse with technique at the same time.
‘Any Party’ staggers into your ears, punch drunk. It’s a series of down strokes, which is the most interesting thing I discovered watching Feist really go for it last night; she lives for downstrokes. Downstrokes which, conventionally speaking, should be upstrokes, like a tennis player moving around a ball so it’s always a forehand. It gives the pulse of her music a unique feeling that’s hard to put your finger on. The accents are in the right places, but not really. There’s this thrust to it, combined with the pickup that she’s using on her semi-acoustic that brings to mind some of the strongest work of Bon Iver. And through these bursts of axe through wood comes these incredible, kind of arpeggiated runs (really, I’m not a guitarist) up the fretboard, which Feist can do with her eyes closed.
I love the sentiment of this track. Feist has always been a winner when it comes to channelling universal emotions in a unique way, and she doesn’t disappoint here, when she sings about going to a party just to leave it for someone she adores. It seems simple enough, but there aren’t many songs that champion the romance of smoke-bombing. In fact, I can’t think of any others. As the song falls away to what sounds like a drunken choir walking down the street singing together, the shambolic 3/4 shanty becomes even more endearing. The song possesses the natural charm that has never left Feist’s music, even when she got weird for a minute there on record number four. As percussive as her playing is, it never punctuates the warmth of the overall tone. The song wraps up with the sound of a car driving up and the singer getting in, ostensibly bailing out to be with the person she came for.
‘You know I’d leave any party for you’, she whispers in that one-of-kind soprano. ‘No party’s as sweet/As a party for two.’
We’re reached vintage Feist and she’s only just getting started. Crack open the bottle, it’s going to be a lovely night.