When the world first met Leslie Feist, she was busy courting an affluence of critical acclaim for Let It Die (Interscope); a record that set icy, winter born lyrics to the kind of wistful music that seemed perfectly suited for those long, lazy August afternoons the mind tends to trace off to when the thermometer begins to freeze over. Now, two years later, the Canadian singer/songwriter returns with her highly-anticipated follow-up, The Reminder (Arts and Crafts); an album that, once again, paints Feist as the victim of a handicapped heart. But where Let It Die felt like a whimsical scattering between genres, The Reminder is wonderfully cohesive. And Feist is quickly cornering the market on cosmopolitan cool pop music.
Recorded in Paris with longtime producer Chilly Gonzales, The Reminder is born of a tasty, full bodied musical aesthetic that simply goes down easy. Reminiscent of “Gatekeeper”, opener “So Sorry” is a Parisian acoustic number glazed over in honeyed back up vocals, and Feist’s tearful croon. “I Feel It All” plays like a dainty, retro rocker…complete with just enough distorted guitar and jangled tambourine to suggest there is mucho love for her moonlit side project, Broken Social Scene, boiling in her blood. Then there is“My Moon, My Man”; a revealing bedroom bounce that sounds like Feist challenging Spoon’s Britt Daniel to a boogaloo contest. And “1,2,3,4” goes kablooey to the tune of sprightly handclaps, ivory tinkling jazz piano, a blaring brass section, Chicago blues style bass, and soulful backup vocals,
But, as much as The Reminder bursts with charisma, charm, and personality, it is hard to deny the fact that Feist spends most of the time on the album sounding down right devastated. Sadly, The Reminder thematically weeps with candle lit laments that cast shadows of familiar love on the wall, only to be lost a moment later by the playful flicker of the flame. Look no further than wounded warrior lyrics like “With Sadness so real, that it populates the city and leaves you homeless again” (“The Park”).
It all would have you believe that Feist is deadly delicate in the game of love. But a Polaroid of dice, included in the artwork, also indicates that, regardless of the pain, she is not one to sidestep chance. Singing, “I’m a stem now pushing the drought aside…opening up…fanning my yellow eye” (“How My Heart Behaves”), Feist lets listeners know, she can move on from love's detrimental ways. - David Pitz