Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Album Review: Far - Regina Spektor

Last summer, I went through a phase where I would listen to nothing but Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch album. Her style seemed so unorthodox yet so carefully engineered that it creates the perfect blend of innovation and classical poise. But when Begin to Hope dropped, it showed that Regina was starting to stray towards the pop scene. While this was not necessarily a bad thing, I did feel myself wishing I had more of the jazz singer side of Regina Spektor. The song that I listened to most off Begin to Hope was her tribute to the great Billy Holiday, "Lady". I remember listening to that song and thinking "This is what I love about Regina Spektor." So when I heard that she was coming out with a new album this summer, I had my fingers crossed that I might get more of the old Regina back. This did not happen. Far is even a further deviation from her classic style into the realm of pop music. Now, I must stress again, this isn't a bad thing. There are a few tracks like "The Calculation" and "Eet" where it works nicely for her, but feels like she's becoming more of a Yael Naim or a Sara Bareilles. "Blue Lips" is a little darker in tone but feels too orchestrated that it puts off the balance so it doesn't really feel like her stuff. Then we get to her juvenile songs, "Folding Chair" and "Machine", where in the former, bubbly melody and improvised dolphin sounds take the reins, and in the latter, Regina pretends to be a robot with a mechanized dark sound that just feels out of place on the album. The single of the album comes next, "Laughing With", which talks about how much of a bummer life can be sometimes. This is more fitting on the album but once again, it feels more like a Yael Naim song. The rest of the songs on the album seem so cookie-cutter piano-pop that I don't even feel like mentioning them. That is except for the song "Genius Next Door". With this song, Regina gave me one little ray of hope that she had not forgotten of the days of Soviet Kitsch and Eleven Eleven. This is the clearly the "Lady" of this album. The piano is absolutely beautiful while the lyrics portray a boy and the solitude he finds in this lake. In the special edition of the album, Regina gives another song that's reminiscent of the older albums with "The Sword and The Pen". It's a beautiful song about the fear of a loved one embracing death. It's songs like these that remind me that Regina Spektor has the ability to put out mature songs that tug at the heartstrings.

Score: 5.5/10
Key Songs: "Eet", "Laughing With", "Genius Next Door", "The Sword and The Pen"


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