1 2 3 4… act like you don’t know more. That’s what any discussion of Feist normally leads to – think back with rose tint to The Reminder and conveniently forget Metals ever existed. So is Pleasure more of the former or the latter?
Well, neither. It’s more a skewed take on the vagaries of that title, all steeped in that the pleasure in question belongs entirely to Leslie Feist. It’s her one-woman band, largely just her voice and her guitar, no famous collaborators and no sense of imparting anything other than the feelings she wears on sleeve. I Wish I Didn’t Miss You is exactly that, the refrain going over and over as the track closes as if we’re the private audience to her staring out of the window one maudlin afternoon.
The record is certainly as ramshackle and lo-fi (lo-Feist?) as she’s ever been. The mastering of sounds is free of studio sheen, the opposite to The Limit To Your Love, and it turns out an absolute beauty on Get Not High, Get Not Low. It’s low-key celebratory, revelling in its DIY-jam vibe, so that when the backing vocals swoop in it turns into one of her most magnificent creations to date.
More of that and we’d be filled with pleasure of our own. But Feist often lets the rebellion against her own catalogue turn into navel-gazing – Lost Dreams meanders without purpose, balanced with a very obvious Dylan-esque Any Party. Unfortunately she doesn’t wear that smokey-blues blazer particularly well and instead comes across a bit, well, gauche. Running as it does into A Man Is Not His Song, it’s the start of a painfully weighted mid-section.
The true indication of Pleasure – and Feist’s interpretation of it – might not actually come from her. Instead there’s a monologue from Jarvis Cocker (of all people) on Century, where he relates the passage of time and what makes up that eponymous period in a cringe-inducing am-dram way. It’s almost condescending, but to Feist we imagine it’s the opposite. Pleasure for her seems to be stripping things back to basics, blissfully unaware that basic is exactly how most of it sounds to the rest of us.