IT’S a rather laborious ordeal sitting through the fifth album from Canadian singer Leslie Feist. Not because its subject matters revolve around the stuff of despair, loneliness and romantic disappointment – all heavy topics in their own right.
Rather, Pleasure is a challenging record because it revels in its pursuit of minimalist melodies. It even gets to the point where the silence is ironically grating.
Listeners who tune in expecting to find something remotely catchy like the decade-old 1234 – that plucked the songstress from the obscure waters of Canadian indie rock by virtue of an iPod commercial – will be sorely disappointed. Then again, there’s always this notion that Feist’s pop-friendly sensibilities on the breakout album The
Reminder was more of a phase (one that she boldly departed from on 2011 follow-up Metals). There are no immediate one-two-punch numbers on this 11-track offering. But Pleasure’s slow-burning template can be rewarding at times – if you’re patient enough, that is. When you least expect it, the 41-year-old whips out a delayed hook after a long streak of lyrical lamenting over atmospheric music.
Hummable tunes are a rarity here, instead, you get DIY-like recordings of a creaking floor and a slamming door. Get past all those eccentricities though, and you’ll find that Feist has crafted a record with plenty of personal observations.
Poetry is in abundance in the lyrics, such as that found on the metaphorical The Wind (“I’m shaped by my storming like they’re shaped by their storming”). The opening titular number and Century sees Feist at her rocking best.
But the singer-songwriter sounds better on the quieter numbers, where her lush mourn- that the band may have strayed too far from country music territory in favour of a more pop, commercial sound.
Aptly titled Welcome Home, the 10-track release is an effort to diminish those worries. Musically, it is chock-full of both traditional and contemporary country sounds.
There’s also a sense of wholesomeness in the album’s overall themes. Lyrically, the band harps on the importance of home and family. 2 Places At 1 Time talks about feeling torn between wanting to travel the world and come home. Roots is about never forgetting your origins even if you’re far from home.
Meanwhile, Family Table highlights the simple but meaningful gesture of having a meal together as a family and My Old Man is a beautiful tribute to fathers and father figures.
Loaded with traditional values and traditional sounds, Zac Brown Band’s Welcome Home serves to remind fans it’s still very much a country band. — Kenneth Chaw
Feist Pleasure Universal