Feist – “Let It Die”

feist let it dieFEIST – Let It Die (Interscope ’04): Instrumentally minimalist not for aesthetic effect but because the environments Leslie Feist renders in her indie folk/lounge/bossa nova world are minimal—from the home made from a rented house in the fantasy storybook schmaltz of “Mushaboom” to the dimly-lit bedroom of her “Leisure Suite,” it’s rare to hear more than the bouncy strum of an acoustic guitar, the low blurt of a trombone, the easy patter of bongos, or the sly zip of a synth, and her voice—a husky whisper even when she tries to be loud, as though in mustering all her strength there’s a scream inside she can’t get out. These are simple songs, songs about lovers who aren’t sure what love is yet, who find it befuddling and fumble clumsily, whipping from emotional ecstatic highs to desolate lows in the course of a hand-written letter. The kind of young person who knows the movies aren’t real but still imagines recreating those “One Evening” romances and raincloud breakups. It’s nothing deep, nothing insightful, nothing profound. And that’s okay. It’s Feist’s charm and warmth that are the draw, the way her pleasant and soft charisma shifts to suit the personality of each song, even more impressive given that the first half is originals and the second half covers: Feist the quirk, who jumps across a sparkling creek on her tippy toes. Feist the cupid, who teases that silly boy to go tell that shy girl how he feels. Feist the seductress, who asks you to unzip her dress and keep your mouth shut. Her albums hereafter were louder, mixing in horn and string arrangements for grand singles like “1234,” and while I like those albums fine, none ever realized that what made Feist’s fragile voice so appealing is that she doesn’t need a cacophonous instrumental atmosphere to fill in the empty space—letting her breath linger in those nooks is more compelling than a blaring trumpet. Always will be. A


Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013 (Arts & Crafts ’13): A MINUS


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