When Leslie Feist released her breakthrough album Let It Die, she became an indie icon almost instantly. Her pretty, sometimes melancholic love songs, her clear campfire voice, her vaguely jazz- and disco-influenced arrangements (highlighted no better than with her cover of the Bee Gees' "Inside and Out"), and her association with darlings Broken ...
When Leslie Feist released her breakthrough album Let It Die, she became an indie icon almost instantly. Her pretty, sometimes melancholic love songs, her clear campfire voice, her vaguely jazz- and disco-influenced arrangements (highlighted no better than with her cover of the Bee Gees' "Inside and Out"), and her association with darlings Broken Social Scene wooed critics and music fans alike. Her follow-up, The Reminder, will serve as proof that Feist's success was no fluke, as the album contains more of the same sweet, introspective lyrics and chords that float around love and longing (or lack thereof) like cottonwood seeds in late spring. Because that's what The Reminder, like Let It Die, really is: a collection of warm, lazy music made for those summer afternoons that creep into evening before you realize it. Feist's voice is cleanly emotive as she sings lines like "There's a limit to your love/Like a waterfall in slow motion" (from "The Limit to Your Love"), "Piecemeal can break your home in half/A love is not complete with only heat" (from "Intuition"), or "Put your weight against the door/Kick drum on the basement floor" (from the upbeat "I Feel It All"), crooning confidently but with a weakness, a fragility that comes out during the most sentimental lines. But this can also be a drawback. At times, she borders on a kind of sappiness that seems better suited to Top 40 Matrix-produced pop songs than hipster-blog accolades. "We don't need to fight and cry/We, we could hold each other tight tonight," she breathes in the otherwise lovely "So Sorry," whose puerile rhymes are fortunately held up by the track's breezy sophistication. The same cannot be said however for "Brandy Alexander," which is too syrupy for its own sake (much like the drink on which it's based), with its repeated phrase "He's my Brandy Alexander" (juxtaposed with "I'm his Brandy Alexander") and "Goes down easy," as Motown-esque harmonies jump in to emphasize that last word. Why Feist, who displays her lyrical skills in tracks like "The Water," "My Moon My Man," and her reinterpretation of Nina Simone's "See-Line Woman" (incorrectly identified as "Sea Lion Woman"), "Sealion," believes it necessary to include such saccharine lines is confusing, and hints at the suspicion that while she undoubtedly enjoyed herself during the making The Reminder, she wasn't really challenging herself with the process. She follows the same path she took with Let It Die -- which, being as strong as it was, is certainly not the worst decision she could've made -- and does it well, which means that the album does end up a consistently good listen. But it also means that it's not much of a departure from what she's shown before. Who knows, Feist may be able to go on charming us by doing the same thing for eternity, but there may also come a point when we want something more, and it's still unclear if she'll be able to deliver it. ~ Marisa Brown, Rovi