A pleasant Reminder

Feist comes into her own
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 4, 2007

VIDEO: Feist, "My Moon, My Man"

Canadian singer Feist’s third solo album is a soundtrack for watching your lover walk out the door. From misty-eyed paralysis to teenage triumph, The Reminder (Cherry Tree/Interscope) bespeaks the adrenaline-soaked moments of clarity that strike when your flame leaves you for the first or the last time. And Feist — who comes to Berklee Performance Center this Saturday — is in tune with the universality and the intimacy of these moments. She writes great pop songs because she captures real emotions.

Although she was always the Broken Social Scene–ster most likely to cross over, Feist has taken her time coming into her own as a solo artist. The Calgary-bred singer cut her teeth in punk bands as a teenager; she got her first notoriety touring with electro-pop bad girl Peaches. Then she moved to Toronto, where she joined the indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene and helped make their 2002 You Forgot It in People (Arts & Crafts) a Juno Award winner. That set the stage for her major-label breakthrough, 2004’s Let It Die (Interscope). An alluring, easy-going mix of bossa novas and torch songs, the album gave off flickers of mass appeal — the sultry intro “Gatekeeper” and the galloping pop gem “Mushaboom” — but was compromised by the adult-contemporary flourishes of its over-cautious covers.

The Reminder reprises Let It Die in pace and formula but is more emotive and comfortable. The languorous bossa nova thrum of “So Sorry” is a beautiful slow boil; it begins as a showcase for Feist’s ethereal voice before the gradual hum of background vocals and windswept xylophone bring out a deep melancholy. Elsewhere, chirping birds and a mournful trumpet give a bit of orchestral gravity to “The Park.” In “So Sorry,” she begins, “I’m sorry, two words/I always think after you’re gone/When I realize I was acting all wrong”; then she reels you in with lovely, plaintive musings: “We’re so helpless/We’re slaves to our own forces/We’re afraid of our emotions/And no one knows where the shore is/We’re divided by the ocean.”

Offsetting the torch songs and pop tracks are offbeat experimental numbers. “Sea Lion Woman” is a Nina Simone cover that begins with tribal handclaps and scatty vocals and climaxes in a guitar solo. The best of the four effervescent single candidates is “1 2 3 4,” an infectious ditty that ends with a celebratory Bacharachian horn breakdown. The first proper single, “My Moon My Man,” is built on a breathy chorus and free-associative lyrics reminiscent of a more playful Sade. Adventurous but without rough edges, heartfelt but not ostentatious, The Reminder achieves the balance of Aimee Mann’s best solo work, or perhaps a more eclectic Norah Jones.

FEIST + GRIZZLY BEAR | Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston | June 9 | 617.931.2000

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