Beguiling second album
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, The Reminder 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 Reminder‘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 The Reminder is a success that has undoubted commercial appeal which at the same time mines more difficult territory.