Written By: Hayley Mierzwa
If you know the name of the Canadian indie pop singer Feist, you probably remember the iPod Nano commercial featuring her biggest hit to-date, “1234.” The song won the Juno Award for “Single of the Year,” after downloads skyrocketed following the commercial. Six years after the release of her last album, “Metals,” Feist has released “Pleasure,” a record straight from a poetic soul that also sounds like it’s straight from a bedroom recording studio in a beautiful way.
Right off the bat, the title track, “Pleasure,” makes you feel like it’s on the edge of chaos, balancing moments of unrestrained rock with serene harmonies. It’ll get you worked up right before dropping you into what sounds like a coffee house acoustic performance. “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” is a glimpse into the intimacy of songwriting.
“Get Not High, Get Not Low” introduces a jazzier percussive sound to the album, which, around the 1:50 mark, gets heavy and begins to sound more like Latin jazz.
One of the things I noted with Feist’s songwriting style is that she often foreshadows the ending style of a song at the very beginning. In “Any Party,” the lyrics, “You know I’d leave any party for you,” is coupled with a live-basement-show-type style. And wouldn’t you know, the track eventually fades out into the sounds of an actual live show and follows the listener out the door as they walk home to the sound of crickets. The crickets carry over into “A Man Is Not His Song,” an incredibly poetic song that later transitions into actual rock music.
This record doesn’t just have varied styles by song, it has varied styles within songs. Although some have already been described, one noteworthy example is the track, “Century,” which goes back and forth between punk-rock-style dissonance and very tender, harmonic sections. At 4:05, a male narrator will break down the length of a century for you before relating some super dark emotions. “Baby Be Simple” is arguably my favorite track off this album. We revisit the white-noise-type vocal effect that makes the song feel like a bedroom recording. This is a really intriguing stylistic choice because it brings a sense of honesty to each song in which it is used on an album, that is otherwise clearly produced in a studio. As Feist sings the lyrics, “But I had to climb down into today / And give up the pain I held myself up by,” you get that intimate picture of a girl and her guitar again, and the pain she sings of is perfectly apparent.
To finish off the album, “Young Up” combines many of the great features of this album into one song. An active, occasionally chromatic bass line leads thick vocal harmonies through an interesting chord progression that made an excellent parting gift to the listener.
Overall, “Pleasure” is a masterfully crafted album. It hits all of the marks that it sets itself up for in the mind of the listener, proving that Feist is not only a talented musician, but a truly intuitive and intelligent songwriter who knows how to captivate any audience.