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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Reminder
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63 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2007
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The new album "The Reminder" by Canadian gal Leslie Feist is receiving mixed critical reviews, but some are calling it the best pop music album so far this year. I ordered it, and my take on it is also mixed, in this sense: Feist is a great songwriter, and this album is exhibit one. Not all of the songs are great, but many of them achieve greatness. Feist's previous album also contained great songs (and some less compelling material), but only about half of them were Feist originals. Here, almost everything is Feist-penned.

Remember the "1234" Busby Berkely-inspired video of Feist from Youtube, that people seemed to enjoy so much? If you haven't seen it, check it out -- it is pure joy wrapped in a 3 minute package. That song is also a minor musical masterpiece, with guitar, banjo, a chorus of voices, quiet bits, loud joyful bits -- put together in a way that things are always changing enough to keep the ear from being bored at any time.

When I think of the Beatles work, or XTC, or James Taylor, Sting, Paul Simon, I think of music that is put together in a very entertaining and craftsmanlike way. A primitive like Bob Dylan (don't get me wrong, I love a lot of what Bob has done, but it is musically primitive) will take a simple three chord verse, then repeat it over and over with different lyrics. The greatest songwriters make music that builds, crescendos, then rolls back, with themes and variations, and little musical bridges (or "middle eights," as the Beatles used to call them). Feist is writing music like that, at least some of the time.

Oh, there are a few quieter numbers that almost approach dirges. I'm not much fond of those. Much of their fault lies in the underproduction -- one of them sounds as if it was recorded in Feist's garden, with her simply strumming her guitar and singing (later joined briefly by brass instruments and perhaps saxophone, but not much else). More complexity and attention to detail in the arrangements could have brought much more out of those quiet songs.

I'm not a great analyser of lyrics. Here they are vague enough to be universal. To me they don't always make sense, but that doesn't bother me. "goo goo ga joob" Does that make any sense? No. It doesn't mean it isn't a great lyric. The main thing is that Feist's lyrics are not embarrassing -- they don't take away from the music. And some of her wordplay and vocal phrasing is quite clever.

So my final rating is
Songwriting: 4.5 out of 5
Production: varies from 3 to 5 out of 5, depending on the track.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2007
Format: MP3 Music
As a Canadian living in the US, I'm always trying to convince people of why Canadian indie rock is so great. Not a tough sell with Feist's The Reminder, featuring the artist in top form. Both this album and her first album, Let It Die, demonstrate Feist's ability to effortlessly sound like anything she wants to, whether it's 70s disco or folksy pop song. Regardless, she infuses all her music with a sounds that's uniquely Feist-y and difficult to pin down.

PS: First review of this album on Amazon! Woot!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Feist's latest collection of songs, 'The Reminder,' makes a gorgeous contribution to 2007's currently lackluster soundscape and proves a worthy sophomore successor to her stunning 2004 breakthrough, 'Let It Die.' Gifted with (and, I suspect, slyly aware of possessing) one of the most expressive voices in pop music today, occasionally evoking traces of Billie Holiday, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Maria Muldaur and even Melanie at her delicate, playful best, Feist is blessed with an exquisite knack for unpredictable melodies and smart hooks, the ability to turn a clever phrase and an irresistably sexy persona blending the insouciant pout of Julie Christie with the formidably confident appeal of Chrissie Hynde, all captured in a package of impeccable arrangements and thoughtful production.

Although the album art suggests an early post-modern romantic minimalism and the mix includes more primitive electronic noodling snaking through the tracks, this collection, unlike her previous work, feels less like a perfect, forgotten pop-soul artifact from 1980, with fresher textures and more ambitious stabs at different styles than those featured on 'Let It Die.' There is a stronger, more aggressive verve to the songs that attempt to rock, such as "I Feel It All" (all breathless, driving passion and ringing fills)," "Past In Present" (tweaking both vintage guitar rock and girl-group influences to best Sheryl Crow at her own derivative game) and even reviving the traditional Nina Simone vehicle, "Sea Lion Woman" (here featuring a catchy, early new-wave vibe and stellar siren guitar wail at the breaks). For ballad lovers, there's yet another parcel of original tender heartbreakers, including "The Park" and "This Is How My Heart Behaves," plus a handful of brilliant potential chart singles, such as the simple but sizzling "My Moon, My Man," the tremulous, beautifully arranged "Limit To Your Love," and "1-2-3-4," essentially a joyful, Burt Bacharach-styled campfire sing-along for nostalgic adults. (Don't miss the charming video on YouTube.)

If there are any modest failings to the album, it's perhaps that one or two of her more precious efforts, although lovely, feel almost contextually unnecessary and the song sequencing occasionally delivers tunes with common arrangement motifs that begin to suggest just a touch of redundancy, but there are more than enough diverse, instantly memorable classics to make 'The Reminder' a must for any collection. In this plastic era of disposable personalities passing as music idols, likely among the least talented, most prefabricated crop popular music has seen since just prior to the Beatles, Feist is proving a viable threat to the current establishment. More power to her, I say.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
I heard Feist's first album "Let It Die" just a few months before "The Reminder" came out. Let It Die was a masterpiece that established Feist as a legitimate and talented artist outside of her work with Broken Social Scene. The Reminder is a further step in that direction, and in my opinion, one of the best albums of 2007. Artfully crafted with a wide variety of instruments and musical arrangements, this album covers a vast array of topics such as childhood innocence, the fleeting feelings of love and loss, and modern womanhood. The tracks are all delivered with Feist's wistful, honeylike voice and pleasant, catchy musical arrangements that are truly unique among modern indie songstresses.

Feist currently occupies a musical domain that is entirely her own. She was a major member of the Canadian independent music collective Broken Social Scene, and has lived in France for the past several years. Formerly a punk singer in her teenage years, and now a Candian-French indie rock chanteuse. There's no perfect way to describe Feist; her unique style is best understood by listening to her albums. This has been one of the top sellers on Amazon for several months now. In ten years, I am certain that this will be considered one of the most relevant albums of this time period. Feist is changing the way people think about pop music. One of the top tags for this product is Bjork, and Feist has that same pioneering spirit, although she expresses it in a form much more accessible to listeners. Just buy this album - it'll be ten dollars well spent.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Admittedly, I have become a sucker for CDs under $12. I had heard one song from this album on "Grey's Anatomy" and then saw the CD for $10. This is one of the best CD purchases I have made in the last year, and keep in mind that I purchase about 50 CDs a year. It is perfect in composition and I have yet to find a song that I skip over. Instead, I have about 5 songs that I find myself going back to over and over! Do yourself a favor and invest in this CD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I did not even know that this was the same singer on that iPod commercial until I bought the cd. That song aside (a decent song ruined by Apple overuse), this is one h@%% of a cd. In a day and age when it is impossible to hear two songs in a row on a cd, it is very refreshing to pop this baby in and experience a wide range of moods as the themes harmoniously flow from track to track. There is nothing more for me to say, buy the cd - excellent voice, writing and melodies. Also, if you are a big fan of this cd, I also recommend the unknown but similarly talented Sasha Dobson (Modern Romance CD).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I listened to samples of this album a few times after my friend introduced me to Feist(pronounced like heist) two weeks ago. After checking it out, I was lukewarm about it, thinking it was probably worth about 3 stars. But being an all around music lover, I bought it anyway. After listening to it another couple of times at home, I quickly realized that this is one of those albums who's secret power is that ability to grow on you at an accelerated rate-if you only give it the chance to. You see I've given it 5 stars now. That's due to captivating songs like "I Feel It All", "Sealion", "Past in Present", "1234" and of course, "Brandy Alexander". I see that I've now listened to it 13 times since I bought it 4 days ago. I liked it so much that I picked up Feist's first solo album, Let It Die, yesterday. Both are nice, but its this one that deserves most high of praise.

"So Sorry" is the quiet, intreverted opening that you'd expect from this artist's shy voice. But don't let it label the remainder of the album's style for you. There's alot of pop here, for instance in the next track "I Feel It All" enveloped in it's comfortable Indie Rock style. The way alot of Indie music should be. But the fascinating thing about Feist and particularly this album is it's ability to please many different types of listeners all at once. You've got Indie Alternative and a quiet, smooth jazzy rock reminiscent of Norah Jones in some of the tamer tracks, as well as the kind of slow building bite that "1234" offers.

Now this is a perfect example of the impact you simply will not hear in the sample tracks. When i sampled this song, I sort of tossed it aside with the rest of what I deemed as 'filler'. Oh what a fool I was. After taking the album home I now realize that "1234" is probably the best song that The Reminder has to offer. The slow build from a few simple guitar and banjo(yes, banjo) chordes to a climax of backup horns is so spectacular that you have to hear it again, which is one of the reasons that I have listened to this album 13 times since Thursday. And what could be a better follow up to this song than "Brandy Alexander", smooth and easy, and slightly motown. Wonderfully accomodating for Feist's one in a million voice, and so simple too.

If you only buy a few albums every year then you need to make this one a priority for sure. It's the best thing I've heard in '07 and tough to surpass. If you discover a beauty here like I did, then you might consider checking out Let It Die, the only other thing near The Reminder's style and quality.

Album's come and go, but timeless is The Reminder.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Upon her release of "Let it Die", Feist gained a respectable fan base and more than decent reviews. All agreed that she was a very talented artist who had put out some very well written songs. However, I was personally disappointed with the lack of creativity that had gone into her album. Great songs of course, but with her background of bands, I had expected something different from her being just another Cat Powers or Norah Jones clone. In a world where female artists seem to have a harder time in breaking into the popular mainstream, It'd be nice if all the ones who did wouldn't sound the same.

Well, fast forward a year and some change and all my disappointment has been washed away. "The Reminder" is everything I would expect from an artist like Feist. Once again her song writing talent shines through, only this time she has stretched her creative muscles to put out some truly new and exciting songs. Don't worry, there are still the amazingly enjoyable pop songs such as "My Moon My Man" and "Brandy Alexander" (two of my personal faves) but she is also willing to experiment with her music such as in "Sealion" and "Past in Present" (my other two favorites).

So now to the point, should you buy this CD? If you like Feist, yes. If you loved her first CD, yes. If you only thought her first CD was alright, YES. I wasn't sure my CD collection really needed another Feist CD, and maybe it didn't, but if I could only keep one of the two, it would be this one. This CD has me excited about Feist's future releases, something "Let it Die" stopped just short of doing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2007
Format: Audio CD
After seeing the new Ipod Nano commercial numerous times on TV, the jingle song 1234 grew on me. Upon visiting the Apple web site, I discovered it was Feist, and the single from the new album. I sampled each song on here, and was pleasantly pleased. This is the first album I have listened to from Feist, but won't be the last. The tunes are catchy, as the case has it with 1234, and Steve Jobs must agree to have it featured as the Nano selling song. I'm sure to have Apple's endorsement will pay dividends for Feist, as many people will do what I have done as they have 1234 going through their heads.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Leslie Feist is another one of those artists that I was introduced to on the Tonight Show. Although I heard her song "1234" back then, I really didn't start paying attention to it until after I saw the video as well as when she performed it on Saturday Night Live. I then went to check her latest album The Reminder out and, well, I can't put it down.

Feist, to me, sounds like a more accessible Tori Amos, because her vocal stylings are similar yet it's easier for casual listeners to understand what she's talking about. But all comparisons aside, there is not one minute wasted on this album. Most of the songs on here are mellow, but when she picks things up, it also works, like on "I Feel It All", "Sealion" (an interpolation of Nina Simone's "See-line Woman"), and the aforementioned "1234". And slow songs also impress, like "So Sorry", "The Limit to Your Love" and "The Park".

I also enjoy the album's closer, "How My Heart Behaves", although I wish I knew whom the male singer is that's singing with her. And I enjoy everything else as well. If you want to pop a CD in your player that'll never have you reaching for the fast-forward button, then The Reminder is it.

Anthony Rupert
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