Now we all know that on April 28, the new Gorillaz album dropped (which is great by the way), but on that same day the quiet magnificence that is singer Feist’s new album, “Pleasure,” was also released. The album isn’t something to be overlooked—it is intense, somber and brilliantly crafted. So while you are jamming out to the Gorillaz’s new tunes, mix in some softer pieces by Feist.
Feist is a Canadian indie-folk musician who launched a solo career in 1999 after being part of the band Broken Social Scene. Her songs are thoughtfully written, and while always beautiful, they alternate between invoking a peaceful contentment or quiet sadness. She is a musician of the Norah Jones, Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor breed, and her main priority is not fame but rather to create music that resonates with her and her life. In an interview, Feist said, “Here I am living in my life and songs occur to help me make sense of it” (New York Times, “Feist Wants to Ask You Some Questions About Sadness,” 04.05.2017). Unsurprisingly, many of her songs are incredibly insightful and distinctly human—a quality that sets her apart from many musicians.
Like most of her discography, “Pleasure” is incredibly slow and graceful, and conveys an intense aspect of introspection. While melancholic in tone, the album interweaves a sprinkling of louder tracks that include rock elements with many harrowing, delicate and minimalistic songs. And of course, Feist’s soft and angelic voice is a standout aspect of every song.
The album intermixes feelings of sadness and hopelessness with themes of sensuality, love and fleeting youth. While entitled “Pleasure,” the album is profoundly darker than the name suggests. However, the sadness only enhances the depth of the lyrics. This sophistication is apparent on some of the highlights of the album such as “Lost Dreams,” “Young Up,” “Get Not High, Get Not Low” and the title track “Pleasure.” “Lost Dreams” is about Feist’s fading understanding of the world and her relationships. “Young Up” is a meandering tune, but what is special is Feist’s harrowing voice matched with her lyrics about death. As the last song on the album, it provides a heartbreaking end.
My favorite song on the album is “Get Not High, Get Not Low,” a song about Feist’s struggle with depression and anxiety. The song begins with this homemade, folksy melody and then around two minutes in picks up with this psychedelic beat. The song peters out in a delicate way with Feist singing “I can’t tell or be told where to go.”
Feist’s insightful lyricism is similarly apparent in the beginning track “Pleasure.” Feist sings, “That is how we evolved. We became our needs,” and that we are “built by what we got built for,” addressing the topic of an inescapable primal sensuality that comes with age. The song builds in its intensity and then ends with some light-hearted clapping and chanting of the word pleasure.
While the album is stellar in its serene beauty, it isn’t very different from the rest of Feist’s discography. It is incredibly similar to her last album, “Metals,” which shares the new album’s slow pace, sad themes and gloomy tone.
With that said, there is still greatness in Feist’s consistency. After her hit track “1234” made it big in 2007, it became apparent that Feist did not want to be known as the sunny, upbeat singer the song presented her as, but rather as a more obscure, melancholic musician. In her interview with the New York Times, she said, “I felt like a lot of expectations had grown up around me that had not much to do with me. My goal was to just very carefully descend the ladder with dignity, and go back to the altitude that I can breathe at.” Feist’s slide into a less poppy place exposes her as a truly down-to-earth artist, and “Pleasure” especially establishes her pensive, graceful and somber nature as a musician.