by Preston Radke
On March 14, 2017 celebrated Indie Pop/Folk vocalist Feist released the first new track off of her upcoming album: “Pleasure.” “Pleasure” is a progression yet an escape from her past work. The single is yet another track in a train of works that stylistically, vocally, contextually, and severely differs from her mainstream hit, “1234” off of 2007’s The Reminder. Contrasting “1234”, “Pleasure” is a sensual, stripped-down, Baroque-pop-leaning exploration of our carnal instincts as human beings and a Freudian analysis of what motivates men and women.
The track takes what seems like an eternity to get started; vocals and noticeable instrumentals aren’t apparent until the 30-second mark. The initial lyrics, “Get What I Want”, begin Feist’s vague and raw introspective on what motivates and initiates her sexual and emotional attraction to someone. Feist’s lyrics never come-right-out and talk about her attraction or motivations; instead she uses lines such as “I make sense of such a serious thing”, and “We became our needs”, to allude to a deeper, more base construct.
Instrumentally, the first minute-and-a-half sounds like vintage Feist. The down tempo electric guitar and minimal percussion reminds the listener of many tracks off of Metals, and The Reminder. At about the two-minute mark, though, the guitars pick up and produce a sequence that could only be described as a blend of classic rock, country, and aggressive folk. In other words, a guitar sequence that is completely new for Feist. Shocking as it was, the guitar sequence lasted for approximately ten seconds, allowing listeners to get a glimpse into what’s possibly to come on the rest of her album. The rest of the song then employs the use of distant horns. These horns paired with the pastoral guitar and her concise yet sharp vocals give the song an almost animalistic feel.
Feist’s vocal delivery very nearly resemble many standouts on 2011’s Metals. As Feist matures as a singer/songwriter, she takes fewer vocal risks, and carefully includes large, grand choruses and melodies. “Pleasure” finds Feist mostly maintaining the same volume and even melodic structure. The repeated ”we admit”, was the most drastic vocal climb she undertook. Again, this is a mass departure from “1234”, a radio-ready song full of vocal gymnastics and soaring melodies. The grittiness and utilitarian feel of “Pleasure” was exemplified by Feist’s voice saying only what needed to be said, at a volume discernible yet elusive. Feist utilizes quick, snappy stretches of lyrics made more for close listening and immediate interpretation. Yet the track also includes short stretches of drawn-out and accentuated verses representative of longing and neglect.
Also in the “Pleasure” Family:
Neko Case: “Middle Cyclone”
Grizzly Bear: “Hold Still”
Jose Gonzalez: “With the Ink of a Ghost”
Note: Feist announced on March 14 that her upcoming album, also titled Pleasure will be released on April 28 by Interscope Records.
All Images From: Musical Toronto
Lyrically it seems as if Feist’s six-year absence has only strengthened her songwriting repertoire. Gone are the days of obvious, slightly cliché verses as found on Monarch and The Reminder. “Pleasure” is an affirmation of Feist’s ability to write complex, analytical pieces through use of minimal vocals and instrumentals.
“Pleasure” featured mostly basic and non-distracting instrumentals. Aside from the one aggressive section at the two-minute mark, the guitars and drums maintain a consistent ark and beat throughout the entire song. The production and instrumentals on “Pleasure” assure that the listener will focus almost completely on Feist’s voice and lyrics. Much as her vocal performance takes few risks; same with the instrumental sections. This song would be just as effective on piano, acoustic guitar, or even banjo. The notes are so utilitarian and almost machine-like in their ability to project Feist’s lyrics on the listener.
On Metals, many pundits claimed that Feist was giving a nod to early PJ Harvey through her concise, if slightly incomplete lyrics and verses. “Pleasure” will only fuel the fire of these pundits as her delivery gets even more scarce and desperate. At times the silence and minimalism of the piece is deafening and tantalizing; the song at times hints at elaborate choruses and explicit lyrics, yet Feist’s atmospheric and measured tone is always their to crush those hints and foreshadowings. The only slight critique of “Pleasure”’s delivery stems from the song’s lack of rhythm. As stated earlier, the backing instrumentation operates only to emphasize Feist’s vocals. Unfortunately, Feist doesn’t provide any noticeable rhythm with her voice. The effect, intentional or not, sets the listener in a mild state of discomfort. Any minor rhythmic vocality would add more direction and structure to the song.
Ryan is a Music Media Production major who wrote the first ever Byte music review and has been involved with nearly every other section at some point. He is also an event planner at Village Green Records and the primary booking coordinator for the store’s outdoor concerts.