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A Song for Shimmying Joyfully

Leslie Feist has sung in punk bands, collaborated with dirty-minded provocateur Peaches and contributed to the music of Broken Social Scene, all of which made it hard to anticipate the sounds of 2005's Let It Die, her timeless debut as Feist. Mixing brooding ballads with tropicalia-inflected pop winners, the disc remains ideal for sticky summer nights and late-night drives.

That said, Feist's new disc The Reminder marks a considerable improvement: Virtually every track hits its mark, whether she's radiating regret ("So Sorry") or crafting gloriously propulsive, mid-tempo mini-anthems like "I Feel It All." The latter song seems to explode out of at least three different musical eras at once, melding contemporary production values with girl-group harmonies and a hook that vaguely recalls the work of the '80s pop band ABC.

Vaguely bittersweet in tone but playful in execution, "I Feel It All" isn't so much danceable as it is conducive to shimmying of the most joyful and fervent kind. Sounding at once realistic and optimistic — "Ooh, I'll be the one to break my heart / I'll be the one to hope again" — Feist sounds primed for a colossal breakthrough here. It can't come soon enough.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)