Regina Spektor has been an influential and pertinent lady in the anti-folk scene for quite awhile, and rightfully so. Soviet Kitsch was released to gleaming reviews and a steady fanbase. Her following album, Begin To Hope was even more critically acclaimed and her audience grew exponentially, on top of showering her with a good amount of commercial success. After her steady rise, it’s hard not to wonder what might come next for the quirky singer-songwriter.
What’s next is, Far, her third major label venture and fifth album overall. After taking a brief hiatus Spektor brings us an album produced by the likes of David Kahne (The Strokes), Mike Elizondo (Dr, Dre), Garret “Jacknife” Lee (U2), and Jeff Lynne (of ELO and The Traveling Wilburys). Mixed with Spektor’s powerhouse voice, this is an all-too-obvious recipe for success. However, the mixing isn’t the focal point. Following suit from previous albums, the vocals are. Far is polished and precise, and nothing on it sounds like it was spontaneous. Everything sounds particularly planned out, unlike past albums where it sounded as if Spektor sat down with a piano and played emotionally raw music that was made up on the spot. More commercially friendly, but still plenty unique, Far is full of the songs that make Regina Spektor, well, Regina Spektor. You just have look (or listen) a little closer, past the imitation dolphin noises (which we’ll get to soon enough).
“The Calculation” opens and is a bouncy pop song, with syrupy sweet vocals over a sunny piano driven tune. In true Spektor fashion a bouncy pop song isn’t always what it seems, but instead lyrically is a song about love and hearts turned to rocks and how seemingly no one can think for themselves and only do the mundane things they are expected to do (“So we made our own computer out of macaroni pieces/ And it did our thinking while we lived our lives“). The haunting sorrowful song “Eet” is a reminder of how quickly things can and do change, and is more band-driven as opposed to the uniform vocals and piano most have come to expect from Spektor. “Folding Chair” is full of sarcastic lines (“I’ve got a perfect body `cause my eyelashes catch my sweat“) and mock dolphin noises, which actually registered a little bit of second hand embarrassment. The desire for excitement and adventure and being held back by someone or something else makes its home in “Two Birds On A Wire,” another piano driven tune that once again, sounds impossibly sweet but is in all actuality just plain depressing.
Whether Regina Spektor is debating the moral dilemma of what to do with a found wallet (“The Wallet”) or leading you to reminisce about your days at the local meat market (“Dance Anthem of The 80’s”), every song is easily digested while giving the listener storytelling slices of relatable scenarios. Welcome back, Regina! Next time, please don’t make us wait so long for another delightful, standout album.
Video: “Laughing With”