The very qualities that make Leslie Feist such a distinctive pop artist are also the very things that make her too easy to dismiss: Her understated melodies, restrained performances and thoughtful arrangements are often decried as dull, monotonous, samey—as if these are critical adjectives that require no further elaboration. Especially at a time when an album’s shelf-life can be measured in days or weeks instead of months or years, Feist makes music that requires close attention and repeated spins, and yet there’s almost always a payoff—some revelation that rewards the listener’s investment.
Above all else, Metals emphasizes Feist’s vocals, which sound as though they were recorded very closely to capture even the finest textures and subtlest tones. At times even Feist herself doesn’t seem to know what she will do from one note to the next. On “Comfort Me,” her voice launches into a short trill of notes, far outside the melodic line, which heralds an abrupt shift in tone and theme. And on “Anti-Pioneer,” she makes a concerted break from intelligible syllables to make her voice another instrument in the mix, delivering pure sound instead of words. It’s a lovely, low-key moment that reveals her most fascinating contradiction: By negating herself in the song—by making the music so quiet, by surrendering the very idea of lyrics, by keeping listeners at arms’ length at least through the first few crucial spins—Feist asserts herself all the more powerfully. – Paste Magazine