You may not know it by name, but you've probably already heard Leslie Feist's "1234," in that iPod commercial that runs about a hundred times a day. It's certainly one of the more winsome pop tunes from Feist's second album "Reminder," and the one that seemed to cling to her folky-pop roots. It's a bittersweet little love song, but played with colourful, innocent exuberance.
"One, two, three four/tell me that you love me more/sleepless, long nights/that was what my youth was for," Feist croons over an acoustic guitar. But with "oh, teenage hopes are lying at your door" it blooms into a sprightly pop confection, which manages to be just a wee bit symphonic, and very catchy.
It's an unabashedly sprightly little song flavoured with some bittersweet little reflections on a love that just ain't what it used to be. "Sweetheart, bitter heart/now I can't tell you apart/cozy and cold/put the horse before the cart," Feist sings during one of the quieter moments.
It's not the only song here, though. "1234" is paired with Feist's collaboration with Mocky, "Fightin' Away the Tears." It's a sensual, rainy tune full of beats, electronic ripples and a mellow guitar tune. Mocky and Feist alternate their vocals, and they actually sound pretty astounding together. And finally there's "Sealion Woman," a breathless electrojazzy number
The first two songs actually fit together very nicely, though one is acoustic indiepop and the other is a sort of downtempo folk. That's because both have a reflective, slightly sad quality, set to a melody that can make you want to dance... at least a little bit. The third one doesn't fit as well, but it's a fun, sexy little tune.
The first wo have a melodic backbone of acoustic guitar, but it's got plenty of instrumentation wrapped around it -- strings, smooth ripples electronica, a twangy banjo, plinking piano, guitar and blaring trumpet. Handclaps take the place of typical percussion in the first song, but there's a hollow, slightly rattly drum in the second. And some really insane synth in the third.
But the highlight is Feist's pretty vocals -- peppy and fun, or languid and torchy, singing songs with innocent insight ("one, two, three, four, five, six, nine, and ten/money can't buy you back the love that you had then"). There are tiny imperfections in her delivery, but that just shows that there's no studio gloss in there.
The "1234" single is a solid trio of songs -- while their styles are very different, they have the same wistful prettiness. Nice.