Seven years ago, the electroclash musician Peaches had a guest vocalist known as Bitch Lap Lap. While their music together may have been sexy as hell, it really doesn’t compare to Bitch’s more recent projects.

Angela Cesere
Oh so Feisty… (Courtesy of Cherrytree/Interscope)

Bitch Lap Lap, better known as Feist, has come a long way from her former punk-rock, Broken Social Scene and Bitch days. After the success of her second solo album Let it Die in 2004, Feist was able to partially crawl out of the shells of her former lives. This year’s The Reminder, though, will undoubtedly push the thirty-one-year-old Canadian into some well-deserved solo spotlight.

Where Let it Die proved that Feist had some serious grooves in her, The Reminder unabashedly exposes melodies that are so catchy you almost hope they make it to the mainstream. But just because some of the album could succeed on radio airwaves doesn’t mean that it can be tossed off as a pop album. Similar to Feist’s previous endeavors, The Reminder retains the genre diversity, but there is something cohesive in this album that ties all of the jazz, folk, electronic, dance and rock together with a thin, red thread of soulfulness.

“I’m sorry” are Feist’s first words in the mellow, sultry lounge croon of the first track. Apologetic lyrics unhurriedly and seamlessly pushed along by bare vocals introduce this album with casualness. The smoothness doesn’t last long, though, and it is immediately interrupted by the guitar-driven “I Feel It All,” which cordially introduces Feist’s pop-reign with harmony in thirds and plenty of tambourine.

The foot-tapping continues from there with “My Moon My Man.” Although the song crescendos with electronic, full-bodied instrumental phrases, Feist’s fluid, and sometimes gravelly whispered, voice takes the forefront.

When she does take the tempo down a notch, she does so with a brilliant attention to detail. “The Water, “one of the most poetically conscious tunes on the album, approaches its somberness with soaring vocals and minimal instrumentation. Interludes of horns and faint bells adorn the lyrical artistry that takes a stunning precedence: “I’m pale as a pile of bones / you hope for your babies and this is how they grow / with batters knocked over / the teeth bite the shoulder / watching the gray sky that’s acting like a good guy.”

The climax of the album comes with the banjo. “1 2 3 4,” with its playful trumpet lines, soulful keys and banjo pickings, just might be one of the best pop songs released this year. But what is great about Feist’s eye-catching entrance into the pop-world is that a tuneful song like this isn’t a sell-out and it isn’t her means of conforming – it’s just really good music.

No, The Reminder doesn’t have anything nearly as funky as “One Evening” off of Let it Die, but it does have the electronically-charged, hand-clapping “Sea Lion Woman” chant. And yes, the album as a whole has a more focused, pulled together sound. Fortunately, despite her conscious movement into pop-oriented terrain, Feist uses just enough elements of her previous eccentricities to keep die-hard fans securely fastened, while also throwing in a few factors that will surely attract some new listeners.

The Reminder

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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