‘1234‘ what are we waiting for? A new album, please, Feist. Oh, you have one, thanks very much. Took you a while.
And it has been a while since we’ve heard from Leslie Feist – six years to be precise. With such a gap, it comes as something of a surprise that Pleasure was recorded in just three months. A rather pleasing surprise at that. Eyeing up a six-year gap is one thing…if it turned out that five and a half years at been spent on this fifth album from the Canadian, the alarm bells would be ringing. Prolonged mucking about with a record is rarely a good sign. That worry being tossed in the bin, is the record up to much?
Well, for a singular artist that has always trod the line of being appealing to chin-strokers in black turtlenecks and mass-market glee, the answer is more or less. Just to the left of left-of-centre which is pretty much what the fans of the Grammy award nominee will be after.
From opener ‘Pleasure‘ taking a decent and eventually quite raucous potshot at twanging PJ Harvey territory to somewhat more introverted tunes like ‘I Wish I Didn’t Miss You‘, the album asserts itself without perhaps some of the moments of pop sheen from some earlier efforts. The overall feel is of a personal record almost recorded on a whim. Obviously, such a description is almost certainly untrue – beware the artist who says, “I made this record for myself“, they are always lying. It nonetheless has an intimate, uncompromising aesthetic. An invitation into the head of Feist for a while.
Things do ebb and flow but the more successful tracks are the rougher ones. The aforementioned ‘Pleasure‘ and ‘Lost Dreams‘. The latter particularly offsets her folky and ethereal voice, hopping about pixie-like, with a bluesy and vaguely distorted guitar. ‘A Man Is Not His Song‘ even tosses in a rowdy coda all too briefly, as if someone has opened the door to a metal band rehearsing in the next studio.
Pleasure is a grower of an album, horrible description though that is. Usually, it means it’s not much cop but you talk yourself into liking it because, you know, you should. In this case, however, it’s true. Repeated listens flag up little quirks here and there within the already excellent tunes and vocals. Perhaps unlikely to suddenly win over a legion of new fans but then, who cares about that? It’s good to have Feist back and very possibly an understated, minor-key soundtrack to the summer.