I bought this album on the strength of what I heard in a record shop. I was blown away by the incredible voice and the immediately catchy sound. The voice was familiar but I couldn't figure out why. When I discovered the artist's identity it made more sense, as I already owned her first album, but had dimissed it as being merely OK(plus there were some worryingly Sade-like tendencies).
I have had some time now to digest the album and I would say that it is a strange mix of perfection and near-misses, but the near-misses are far better than 95% of what's out there. I've since decided that the real reason her voice seems so familiar is a vague resemblance to Ricky Lee Jones rather than my remembering of her prior work.
One of the things that some people liked about her previous album was the intimacy that derived from its restrained production. Well here they've pulled out all the stops and if anything there are a couple of tracks where you actually wish they'd held back(on the reverb' say)a little. But overall I would say that this album benefits hugely from a LESS minimalist approach. While Feist has progressed with this album I'm not convinced it is all in a positive direction.
There is an amazing variety of material on this album, but perhaps not enough killer tracks. It certainly deserves some success and I suspect it will get it.
on 25 October 2007
Very simply, "The Reminder" is a beautifully crafted set of songs about love and relationships, performed by Canadian singer/songwriter (Leslie) Feist. It is her second solo album, building on the impressive 2004 offering - "Let It Die". What makes this album special is how well it combines the unique qualities of Feist's plaintive, yet expressive vocals with delicate arrangements of piano, guitar, and percussion, not to mention the poetic quality of the lyrics, the distinct individual characteristics of each song, and the consistent high quality that is maintained throughout the album.
The album beings "So Sorry", an apology that is poignant in its simplicity ("I'm sorry / Two words I always think / After you're gone / When I realise I was acting all wrong"), before turning to "I Feel It All", a song that compares a fluttering heart when falling with love to the wings of a bird and then speaks of having to shoot this bird down, as the other person may not feel the same ("Oh I will be the one who'll break my heart / I'll be the one to hold the gun"). On a similar theme, "The Park" is a slow melancholic song about the crushing realisation, having mistaken someone for her lover, that the latter may not be the special person that she had let herself think he was.
After another moody number in "The Water", the pace is lifted with "Sealion", a light-hearted look at a manipulative woman:
Sea lion woman dressed in red
Smile at the man
When you wake up in his bed
Sea lion woman dressed in black
Wink at the man
And then stab him in his back
"The Limit To Your Love" is one of the album's highlights, with some of Feist's best vocals combining with a strings arrangement, to produce this soulful song of loving the thrill of falling for someone who she knows will not be able to reciprocate fully. It is followed by 1234, which, despite being one of the first singles from the album, is actually one of the songs that I have least warmed to, mostly because it sounds like a nursery rhyme.
"Brandy Alexander" is a sexily sung comparison of how a perfect partner for someone is like the ideal complementary drink - irresistible not to overindulge with!
"Intuition" is a song where the woman sense regret for ending a relationship and wonders just how much she ought to trust her instincts for these things. If only all women could be as honest as this!
And it's impossible to tell
How important someone was
And what you might have missed out on
And how he might have changed it all
And how you might have changed it all for him
Fellow Broken Social Scene collective members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning then provide backing vocals on "Honey Honey", while Charles Spearin features earlier on My Moon My Man, an allegory of how relationships are imperfect but important ("It's the dirtiest clean I know").
The album finally ends with "How My Heart Behaves", one of the few highly produced songs on the album, and one that allegorically speaks of emotions taking root after careful nurturing and now beginning to blossom ("I'm a stem now / Pushing the drought inside / Opening Up / Fanning My Yellow Eye").
How to sum up? Well, to put it like this, if I hear a finer album this year, then I will be seriously pleased.
on 25 April 2007
After the pretty magical Let It Die, I had no idea what the next Feist record would sound like. The first listen to the album as a whole was just amazing.
Like a more realised version of what began on Let It Die, The Reminder has that wonderful ability to make your heart burst with happiness and shatter at the same time. There's a gorgeous sentiment to the record.
1234 is sucha triumphant song that I really can't not sing along to, Sea Lion Woman makes me want to dance, and Limit To Your Love is just absolutely magnificent. A very diverse album, but really coherent.
I was lucky enough to see her perform basically the whole thing live before I had the album, but on record it actually does sound almost as good. It's incredibly well produced, her voice is outstanding, and the writing is very strong.
I really can't recommend the album enough!!!!
My Moon My Man was probably the most commercial thing Feist has ever put on record. Yes there were certain cuts from Let It Die that wouldn't sound out of place on the radio, but never has Leslie Feist come up with a shinier, happier simple pop song.
And by listening to 1234, another track on the delightful new album The Reminder, you could be fooled into thinking that Feist has "sold out" for commercial gain. It's not to say that either song is bad, in fact it's far from it. Both are so good that it's difficult to align it with the more "out-there" aspects of her oeuvre. But fear not, The Reminder shows Feist in all her genre-hopping glory.
So the jazzy, Norah Jones-esque So Sorry can sit snugly with the piano driven The Limit To Your Love which can conversely sit quite happily alongside Brandy Alexander with it's finger-clicking "drum" beat.
Granted with such an eclectic range of styles not everything works, and I can well imagine different listeners picking out different individual highlights. But in a way that just goes to show you what an album this is. It's not perfect, but it's never less than captivating. Even on the times you're thinking "she's not got that right" Leslie Feist is such a talent that you can usually see/hear why she tried. I'd recommend this wholeheartedly.
on 6 May 2007
Not being familar with her first solo effort or previous (pre-Broken Social Scene) encarnations in the Canadian punk scene and beyond, it was something of a surprise to come across this album. Such is the massive (frequently brilliant) overloading of Broken Social Scene's musical pallette that Feist's vocals are often buried quite deep in mix and not done the justice afforded here. In fact, this bares little resemblance to the music she makes with BSC at all. Feist makes subtle folk-pop tinged with country, soul, jazz and electronics, from breezy ballads and pained torch songs to French pop and electro. Whereas these elements amount to a pleasantly varied album, it is all integrated organically into the music with apparent insouciance and subtlety. Moreover, it revolves around the strength of Feist's voice, given an additional dimension and fragility owing to vocal chords damaged in her teenage punk days. Rather than be a hindrance to her, it makes for singing (by turns) as warm as Joni Mitchell and as penetratingly raw as Beth Gibbons. Indeed, some of the music on 'The Reminder' - embellished by autumnal glockenspeil and French horn - bares comparison to the Beth Gibbons and Rustinman classic Out of Season.
Superficially, opener 'So Sorry' is redolent the vapid aural wallpaper of Norah Jones, but its a niggle quickly dissapated as the album progresses. 'I feel it all' recalls the sophisticated country of Neko Case, while the brilliant 'My Moon My Man' is the album's most immediate track. 'Sealion' mixes electro and gospel to fantastically original effect, while electronics also grace the dusky murmour of 'Honey Honey'. The former pulls off with verve the synthesis of soul and dance music proferred by the likes of Herbert, but less conventionally so. It also recalls Herbert muse Dani Siciliano's flawed solo effort 'Likes'. 'Past in Present' is nearer to BSC than anything else on the album, while 'The Limit to Your Love' and 'The Water' are heartbreaking torch songs. '1234' and 'Brandy Alexander' are too sacharin for my taste but some listeners will probably prefer their breezy charm to the darker tracks. Overall its a success that has undoubted commercial appeal which at the same time mines more difficult territory.
on 8 July 2007
This album is scarily good! I was impressed the first time I listened to it and the second time I was in awe - now I am on the 100th play in a week and I am just blown away. Her voice is spectacular- the songwriting is fantastic - a good mix of upbeat and ballads, a little bit funky, a little bit cheeky....I'm really into The Bird and The Bee right now and an artist called Bobby Baby so you should check them out. I never buy concert tickets but within a week of owning this album I have bought tickets to see Feist in London. This is also the first time I have bothered to write a review, that's how good I think they are!!
on 25 May 2008
Having recently been to see Feist perform at the Royal Albert Hall, after listening to this record every week for the best part of a year, I felt compelled to finally add my voice to the acclaim. It's an absolutely wonderful album, pretty much perfect from start to finish.
I suppose a lot of people looking at this page will have heard 1234 or My Moon, My Man and expect a full-on pop album - you're likely to come away slightly disappointed. Whilst 1234 is probably the most perfect pop song I've heard in ages (perhaps since Mushaboom off her last album, which I subsequently bought), it's accompanied by some beautiful stripped-down numbers and cracked downtempo songs. Too many highlights to list, but Brandy Alexander and Intuition deserve special mentions.
Feist's voice is staggering, her lyrics excellent and the production and vibe helps hold everything as a cohesive whole, with an excellent running order. Having been impressed with a number of albums in 2007, this one probably took the album of the year title for me due to its sheer range and consistency. (Close runners up being Boxer by the National and Cease to Begin by Band of Horses). Live, the stripped down numbers were even more staggering than on record, where Feist's edgy guitar playing is a wonderful complement to her amazing voice. Unconditionally reccommended.
Feist helped bring back heartfelt, subtle pop in her second album, "Let it Die." And in "The Reminder," this talented singer not only polishes up her sound, she expands it to include more colourful, expansive, complicated melodies that draw from jazz, pop, folk, a bit of funk, and some pretty little ballads.
The first song is an echo of her last album's style -- a gentle guitar ballad, about someone who doesn't want to fight or break up. Feist murmurs through it, "I'm sorry, two words/I always think after you're gone... We're slaves to our own forces/We're afraid of our emotions/No one, knows where the shore is."
But then she switches over to a poppier tune, delightfully jangly little guitarpop edged with toy piano. "I Feel It All" is only the first of her musical explorations: lo-fi folk, tightly wound piano jazz, delicate keyboard ballads, and some kooky electrofunk.
But Feist also includes some of what she's strongest at , namely subtle pop songs like "Limit To Your Love," full of gentle piano, harp and guitar. And sometimes she goes WAYYYYY into her experimentation zone, like "Honey Honey," which sounds like a more melodious Joanna Newsom, or "Sea Lion Woman," a deliciously mad funky avant-electronic tune. I can hear other electropop "artists" grinding their teeth at this one.
It's hard to eve find a flaw in "Reminder" -- if there's anything to criticize, it's that it doesn't sound very cohesive. But in all other respects, Feist has only grown as a musician. She takes the synth-piano-guitar triad from her previous album, and lets it bloom with greater passion and beauty, not to mention complexity.
And she allows each instrument to shine in at least one song apiece, whether it's the thumpy piano, the tinkly toy one (it sounds like wind chimes), acoustic guitar, or epic ripples of synth. There's even some blaring trumpets and rattly rambourine in some songs. And she tries out virtually all kinds of good pop music, flavoured with everything from rock to jazz to avantelectro.
Feist's voice is as adventurous as the music -- it's a pretty voice on its own, but she takes some vocal risks as well. She croons, purrs off-key, warbles a little, and even harmonizes with her own voice. And the songs she sings are simply lovely -- they're beautifully written ("Stranded in the fog of woods/Looking like the winter bird"), and full of emotion. Sometimes it's as simple as telling a lover that there's a limit to his love for her, but still "I'll go, I'll go, I'll go/Out on the road/because there is no limit... limit to my love."
Feist's third "Reminder" is an exquisite little pop gem, and though one or two of the songs don't fit, each one is a little beauty. Definitely a must-listen.
on 4 February 2008
I quite like this album. Nice tunes and her voice isn't bad ... but what really lets it down is the production on the vocals. She obviously doesnt have a perfect voice so whoever did the production has tried to hide this by putting various reverbs and effects that occasionally make it sound like she is singing from the back of the room, or through a radio or in a bucket.
This is a great shame. I would rather hear the flaws in her voice than have it masked. For me a voice doesnt have to be prefect. There are loads of great voices that sound terrible (Maria Carey) and terrible voices that sound brilliant (Damon Albarn). It just has to sound real and heart felt ... that's what counts.
I would have easily given this album 4 stars were it not for the way the vocals were treated in production.
on 6 December 2011
Simply a brilliant album with such diverse songs! 1-2-3-4 is so full of life that it makes me wanna skip through the house, My Moon My Man has such a rhythm to it that I want to find an airport to dance in, just like in the video, and Limit to your love is the ultimate love song, so full of melancholy and desire to be loved without boundaries.
I love this album because it always takes me through various states, from joy to nostalgia, from meditating to jumping up and down to the beat.
I didn't expect it to be as good as her first album because I couldn't imagine in which direction she would go, but she somehow manages to be diverse and coherent at the same time, and always with a voice that really gets under your skin.