Review Summary: you belong in this play's cast of characters
Leslie Feist has gotten good at looking inward.
Pleasure - all jagged riffs and incongruous interludes - parades its minimalism proudly, gesturing for us to cross the threshold, sit by the fire and take comfort in the fact that we share the same feelings expressed in its songs. Feist takes a magnifying glass to the anatomy of her everyday, offering some whimsical sense of comfort for those who sit down to spend the 53 minutes with her.
I can feel the empathy that permeates this record consolidated by its idiosyncrasies in real time. A Jarvis Cocker sermon feels revelatory, like a road map showing me a path to where the "air is cleaner" after too much time occupying the most poisonous of head-spaces - as I am wont to do. By the time High Road by Mastodon saunters in to explore gender binary at the end of A Man Is Not His Song, I begin to realise that Feist speaks with her songwriting choices as clearly as she speaks with her lyrics. It's the distinction between a film fleshing out its narrative with clever cinematography as opposed to needless exposition.
Pleasure is both disheveled and deliberate; its imperfections carefully considered. The whisper of static lapping at the edges of this record is warm and welcoming, bringing with it a wave of intimacy. If you listen close enough, the album plays out like the perfect antidote to an imperfect, overwhelmingly vast existence. Then, there's moments that are almost imperceptible, like the slight waver of Leslie's voice as she croons the refrain in Baby Be Simple. As these songs wander into the realm of the heart-to-heart and comforting near-silence, it is reasonable to assume that the album wants you to confide in it. That, I guess, is why I've fallen in love with it so quickly - the idea that Pleasure is the friendliest and most world-weary stranger on the bus you'll ever meet, or a hot cup of coffee in the depths of winter.
This album is skeletal. These songs feel like blueprints of other songs, getting lost on the way to completion and stumbling onto some deeper meaning as a result. Pleasure eschews a glossy veneer for a loose weave of drunken pub singalongs and chord progressions that sound like sandpaper, just to carve out a place for the fragile and the imperfect. In Pleasure's company, I can feel okay being both of these things.