Feist, "Pleasure" (Interscope)
Canadian singer-songwriter Feist has, by her own account, gone through some low times since the release of her last album, 2011's "Metals."
So listeners won't be unsurprised to find deep seam of pain on her new record. But there is also plenty to enjoy on "Pleasure," a collection of songs that feel alternately delicate and raw.
Nothing here has the instant-earworm quality of Feist's biggest hit, the bouncy "1234" from 2007 album "The Reminder," which was used to sell iPods in Apple ads and to teach kids to count on "Sesame Street." ''Pleasure" is a bolder and sadder affair.
The title track opens the album and sets the tone, as Feist's rich, resonant voice goes from a murmur to a shout against a crunchy guitar backdrop. The lyrics — "It's my pleasure, and your pleasure" — could be a celebration, or a lament.
Feist's diverse influences — folk, indie rock, jazz, metal and more — remain discernable, but the album has a pared-down feel. Many songs are built around her voice — quirky, ironic, delicate, arresting — and the sounds of a guitar being plucked, strummed or whacked. A bit of background crackle and hiss add to the sense of analogue intimacy.
The effect is yearning on "I Wish I Didn't Miss You," sensuous on "Get Not High, Get Not Low" and achingly bluesy on "I'm Not Running Away."
There's a sense of an artist keen to keep listeners off-balance. "Any Party" is an anti-party anthem ("You know I would leave any party for you") that builds to a rousing chorus, and "Century" is propulsively catchy until Jarvis Cocker pops up to intone about time.
Feist worked on the album with her longtime collaborator Dominic "Mocky" Salole, who is credited as co-writer on several tracks. But "Pleasure" feels very much her own: unique and alone.