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Feist: Metals (Cherrytree/Interscope) 

How many times do you play a record all the way through, waiting for a song to distinguish itself? Because for the past two weeks, I've been waiting for a song, any song, on Metals to rise up out of the album's polite, coffeehouse, Lilith Fair cooing and become noticeable.

In lots of ways, Metals is more like the rest of Feist's discography than it is like The Reminder, her breakthrough record from 2007 with the keen pop sensibility. The songs on The Reminder are Songs; the songs on Metals are mostly meditations and atmospheres. Metals doesn't deserve to be dismissed for that reason, but it's underwhelming.

"Caught a Long Wind" is representative of the album's blandness. It's aimless, repetitive and a bit too tinkly; too many names of birds appear in the lyrics.

"How Come You Never Go There" comes closer to pop satisfaction, because it communicates an idea. That's the thing about songs like "My Moon My Man" or "1234"—these The Reminder works were articulate and well-crafted, and they delivered an idea. So if The Reminder was like reading an author's book of finely honed short stories, Metals is like reading her private journal, full of free association and metaphysical rambling.

Look, no one can ever accuse Feist's music of not being pretty and bewitching. But she's more affective when her music seeks to talk to its audience—and not when it allows its audience to overhear her.

More by Sean Bottai

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