Is there a trend towards minimalism in indie music right now? Perhaps as a reaction to greater and greater levels of polish and production in pop music, it feels as if alternative artists are stripping back their sound to the essentials. Following Conor Oberst’s demo-like Ruminations last year, we find exhibit B, Feist’s Pleasure.
By Graeme Smith
Pleasure is the fourth full-length release from Canadian singer/songwriter Feist and comes six years after Polaris prize-winning Metals. It’s a long way from her biggest commercial successes, Mushaboom and 1234, but it’s still unmistakably Feist.
Starting with about 20 seconds of silence, Pleasure has you reaching for your volume controls right off the bat. Fortunately, you’re not deafened as, when the opening title track does kick in, it’s just a simple acoustic guitar with Feist’s inimitable, mellow voice floating over the top.
And why have it any other way? We listen to Feist records largely to get lost in that voice. Track 3 Get Not High, Get Not Low introduces some more complexity to the sound and, after such minimalism, it feels like a veritable orchestra, and sounds just lovely. It’s an early highlight.
Over 11 tracks, Feist bends unusual riffs, breaks into drunken choruses, introduces cassette-quality rock music, spoken word and other storytelling audio. With such subtle artistry, it feels as if Pleasure demands several listens to tease out its meaning. Even then, like all classics, one suspects that each new listen would reveal something previously-hidden. In an industry that is moving increasingly towards short-term, easily forgotten, consumable hits, a lot of listeners are crying out for this.
Pleasure by Feist is out on 28 April 2017 and available for pre-order now with a free instant download.