“The piano is not firewood yet,” Regina Spektor declares not long into her new album, and indeed it’s hard to imagine this New York City songstress running out of better applications for her instrument any time soon.
The embodiment of dramatic reach Regina Spektor’s music encompasses everything from whimsy to pathos…and to that end Regina’s seminal 2006 album “Begin to Hope” was by all accounts a musical masterwork of first decade of the 21st century. More than “just” music, “Begin to Hope” was a wonderfully paced outpouring of emotion that pushed the boundaries of contemporary pop and indie music, writing new definitions to genres of music ever forever in flux.
So, 2012 brings us a follow up to that monumental exhibition of innovation and experimentation and in spite of perhaps not being equally as ground breaking as it’s predecessor this new album is by all accounts sweeping in scope and equally enjoyable. Different than previous albums, this one is bereft of her heart-stopping glottal stops though the Russian-American pianist’s new “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats” is nevertheless a signal achievement, a set of beguiling originals abounding with hooks, humanity and endearing quirks.
Foremost in the quirky department, “Oh Marcello” interpolates the tagline from the Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” into a campy, mock-classical romp. Restlessly inventive, the track essays almost too many terrific ideas to be contained in three minutes, recalling a less over-the-top Queen or a more freewheeling Paul McCartney. The ping-ponging peaks and valleys of “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)” are as loopy as they are enchanting, especially when, sounding a McGarrigles-inspired note, Spektor tenderly replaces the image of an aging woman’s varicose-veined legs with one of their young and shapely predecessors.
Regina Spektor - “All The Rowboats”
Spektor’s fetching eccentricities aside, there’s at least a handful of radio-ready singles here, thanks in part to the direction of Dr. Dre protege and Eminem producer Mike Elizondo. “The Party” is just what it says, and then some. “May I propose a little toast for all of the ones who hurt the most / For all the friends that we have lost,” Spektor urges over a stately brass arrangement. Rich in empathy, her sentiment is anything but cheap, despite the vantage point invoked in her album’s title.
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