Spektor’s sound, lyrics are never ‘Cheap’Written by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
Regina Spektor, “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats”
Regina Spektor’s unique style is an acquired taste but a great find if you have the palate for it. On “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats,” she leans heavier toward her aggressive side than on previous albums. It’s another great collection of the crazy and inventive music I’ve grown to love from her.
Spektor has one of the most unique voices in the industry with airy vocal runs like a gentle Christina Aguilera, and the breakdowns in some of her songs sound like acoustic rap on piano. It sounds like a strange combination in theory, but she manages to make it mesh wonderfully.
Most of Spektor’s radio play has been on lighter romantic songs such as “Fidelity.” She’s going a different route this time with the choice of “All the Rowboats” as the first single. It’s an intense and industrial-sounding track. It’s the perfect example of her craziness and inventiveness as she sings about the tragedy of art being locked away in a museum. In the chorus she croons, “First there’s lights out, then there’s lock up. Masterpieces serving maximum sentences. It’s their own fault for being timeless. There’s a price to pay and a consequence. All the galleries and museums, here’s a ticket, welcome to the tombs.” It is all wildly over-dramatic, but that’s what makes it great.
She seems to be taking it to Justin Bieber on the CD’s opening track “Small Town Moon.” She borders on breaking his record for times using baby in a song by singing it 13 times in a row, but that’s as repetitive as you’ll ever hear Spektor. Quality piano melodies and unbridled creativity are big parts of her music, but her biggest strength is her lyrical prowess. Sometimes her words can be a little off the wall, but they are always fresh.
I love when Spektor works her native Russian tongue into her music. It would be difficult to have success with an entire album in a foreign language, but she uses it sparingly enough to keep it a charming surprise. The aggressive-sounding language has a surprisingly romantic feel when put to music. For a prime example of this, check out her song “Après Moi” off the 2006 album “Begin to Hope.”
“Firewood” is a hauntingly-beautiful waltz about longing for youth with lyrics like, “You’ll take the clock off of your wall, and you’ll wish it was lying.” It brings me back to the final scene in “Toy Story 3,” which makes sense with lyrics like, “The piano is not firewood yet, but a heart can’t be helped and it gathers regret. Someday you’ll wake up and feel a great pain. Then you’ll miss every toy you ever owned.”
“How” sounds like a ballad Elvis would have recorded in his heyday. The song is a great throwback to the ‘50s about struggling to move on. The lyrics even seem inspired by the doo-wop era such as, “Time, come and wash away the pain. But I just want my mind to stay the same, to hear your voice, to see your face. There’s not one moment I’d erase.”
“Ballad of a Politician” is another solid example of Spektor’s random lyrics such as, “Shake it, shake it baby. Shake your ass out in that street. You’re gonna make them scream someday. You’re gonna make it big.”
“What We Saw From the Cheap Seats” is the best of an already solid collection of albums from Spektor. Her music isn’t for everyone, but I recommend testing the water if you haven’t heard it before.
****1/2 out of 5