It is safe to say that Feist's fourth album Metals is like a quiet storm. You feel the ominous presence but are never really prepared for when it hits.
No one can deny the infectious appeal of her 2007 offering, The Reminder, which made sure that not only the indie kids were humming along to hits like 1234. Packed with a mixture of subtle but catchy folk-pop numbers and low key genre-breaking melodies, the singer/songwriter became the glue that brought together groups of people with varying musical taste.
She has the street cred to warrant fans like Jay-Z but also the clout of two commercially successful albums and four Grammy nominations.
A little taken aback by all the attention garnered by The Reminder, it's no surprise that Feist took her time before she brought out Metals. Somewhere between building a studio on the side of a cliff out in Big Sur and gallantly taking in the expansive surroundings, Metals was conjured.
There was no way that amidst the beautiful Santa Lucia Mountains, which rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean, she couldn't find inspiration and perspective about nature, spirituality and love.
And on Metals, Feist channels her inner oracle to capture these themes in a more universal tone than her previous offerings. There's a marriage between personal and external life lessons which culminate in a musically mature album.
Almost every track starts off with an unassuming string arrangement which builds into an eminent syncopation accompanied by a family of instruments.
Some songs like Caught a Long Wind fool you into thinking the rhythm will break into an epic orchestral showcase but instead maintain a menacing arrangement with a great use of horns near the end. As Feist's syrupy voice sings "Little bird have you got a key / Unlock the lock inside of me", one begins to realise that what was once personal on her previous albums has now taken on a more global ambition.
And perhaps that's reading too much into it but then Commotion uses a similar formula except each verse contains an impulsive chorus of men shouting "commotion" near the end. Similar outbursts can be heard on Comfort Me but with a way more melodic harmony that you can easily picture hearing at a bar full of drunken indie kids.
The use of strings and brass (played by avant-saxophonist Colin Stetson) is subtle but powerful, creating a cohesive through line from one track to the next.
The collection's first single, How Come You Never Go There is probably the only track which explores her poppy side, clearly aimed at those who sang along to 1234. But my personal picks are Graveyards, The Circle Married the Line and Cicadas and Gulls, although each song is so fully realised that it's only a matter of time before they all become favourites.
Every instrument, vocal change and harmony is so meticulously executed in Metals that there's no way this album won't creep under anyone's skin.