Feist | Let It Die

Recorded in Paris over a two year stint, Leslie Feist’s sophomore solo LP is often referred to as her “French pop’ record, but it would be a shameful understatement to pigeonhole Let It Die into something so overly simplistic.

Bobbing between the lighthearted and the bitter, the cutesy and the sullen in equal measure, the record is a complex, evergreen listen colored by the full spectrum of sensitivity. Graduating from Toronto’s Broken Social Scene, Feist has established herself over the course of her solo career not only as a gifted songwriter, but a virtuosic guitarist and endearing personality. After a five year musical gap, 2004’s Let it Die was both a tremendous leap of artistry, and in hindsight, a critical moment in establishing herself as an essential character in the post-2000’s indie rock pantheon, going on to collaborate with everyone from Jane Birkin to Mastodon.

Conceived as a split record with originals on the A-side, covers on the flip, Let It Die is a secret garden, a whimsical sonic landscape of whispered refrains, and crooning melodies. Fleeting sultry moments are peppered into the secret sauce, spicing up the tracklist just enough to keep its sweetness from succumbing to the saccharine. The record’s eleven songs are simultaneously some of the most vulnerable and most danceable (there’s a Bee Gees’ cover for crying out loud) to emerge in her career, earning her Best Alternative Album and Best New Artist at the Juno awards in 2004.

What is so compelling about the record is its emotional breadth, the lyricism can be cheerful and easy in one breath, then melancholic – even gut wrenching in the next. Take the one-two punch of “Mushaboom” into the title track “Let It Die”. The former is a quaint dose of sonic sunshine, a literal childhood memory brought to life (Mushaboom is a Canadian community near Halifax where Feist was born), “Old dirt road, knee deep snow, watching the fire as we grow old”. This followed by the mourning of a failing love affair to devastating effect “Now I know what I don’t want, I learned that with you”. Leslie is a master of crafting the poetry of relation, suffusing her melodies with the power to both cut and to heal, with an impeccable knack for putting words to those amorphous lingerings that occupy our hearts in the stillness of a silent night. 

The sparse instrumentation, coupled with the delicate but immediate earnestness of her vocal delivery makes Let It Die a poignant, enduring listen from start to finish. While the poppy, baroque flourishes are undeniable, the record’s true legacy crystalizes Feist’s subversive sophistication as a performer in mourning, and as the title suggests, a soother of grief.

– Stephanie Glass, March 2022

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