A Long-Awaited Title With Deep Personality
For the first time in four years, the artist Feist has released an album, titled Pleasure. The first track echoes the emotion built up over these years of life. The album is a juxtaposition of folk and the softest possible female-fronted punk. Feist sings, “It’s my pleasure, that’s what we’re here for,” and the listener comes to believe that the sentiment is deserved. Pleasure as a title is an exercise in positive thinking, just as art is a way to combat pain.
The album feels cathartic and deeply personal. “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” as predicted, perhaps, by its title, is an ode to heartbreak and loss. The vocals on this track are wistful, resembling something like a pained moan and a high keening that communicates the primal universality of feeling a sudden lack in one’s life, and the internal conflict that comes with it.
“Get Not High, Get Not Low” is a (forgive the phrasing) high-point on the album. It is percussive and features an interesting musical topography with long pauses between powerful phrases, and vocals drawn out into glissandos that pull like taffy. The experimental contouring continues on “Lost Dreams,” as the lyrics mostly comprise the words of the title, presented over a variety of background textures to create a meditative soundtrack.
Feist manages to take an album that seems to represent a tumultuous time in her life with a variety of evocative stylings and create a cohesive work. The second half of Pleasure tells a series of vignettes, as folk-leaning tracklists are wont to do. “Any Party” is an introvert’s anthem dripping insistently with sweetness in the lines, “You know I’d leave any party for you / no party’s so sweet as our party of two.”
Perhaps in rebuttal to herself, then, or in a cross-genre response to Roberta Flack, Feist asserts that “A Man Is Not His Song” in a piece that toes the line between indie music and spoken word. Feist has a voice like wind chimes, light and airy when set beside an interjecting choir. In contrast, the artistic “Century” features percussion like something out of the Blue Man Group, and appears to be presented in two distinct movements. The second movement features the only male voice on the album in a monologue a la Vincent Price on “Thriller.” The lyrics and lead vocals match this sense of foreboding, speaking of “dark nights of the soul” with a wailing quality.
Another track of note, having listened to the rest of the album consecutively, is the true folksy ballad “Baby Be Simple,” on which the artist entreats the subject — perhaps the redemption in the story of the rest of the album — in a refrain which again echoes the title. The track showcases an incredible vocal range. A lyric stands out, having listened to the edifice that is Pleasure and knowing the growth that comes from a venture like this being “built from bedrock.”