Friday, May 25, 2012

Regina Spektor: "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats" (album review)

Every Regina Spektor record has a bunch of songs that are quirky and endearing.  However, every Regina Spektor album also has a batch of songs that are either monotonous or brimming with self-indulgent vocal runs and other nonsense.

So will the new studio album, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats (out May 29th), fair any differently?

The start is very promising.  The album opener "Small Town Moon" begins as a standard Spektor piano number.  She jerks you out of the moodiness part way through with a completely unexpected 'woo!'.  That signals the song's transition into a full-blown rock number which includes handclaps.

Built upon The Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "Oh Marcello" is a rare Spektor number that utilizing processing to great effect.  With quirky lyrics and a pleasant vocal melody, "Patron Saint" is more typical Spektor.  Tension grows and grows on "All the Rowboats", making it a deliciously ominous tune.

The album standout is "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)".  There's a sunny Caribbean flavour and a steel drum vibe, created without a single steel drum.

Unfortunately, that's not sustainable.  Eventually Spektor reverts back, leaving us with a string of dull, unremarkable piano ballads.  "Firewood", "How", "Ballad of a Politician", and "Open" all lack the lyrical and musical punch to be interesting.

Yet again Spektor has delivered a record that has some outstanding moments.  Yet again, however, she's delivered a record that will have you skipping half (or more) of the tracks.

Best tracks: "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)", "Small Town Moon"

Track listing for What We Saw From the Cheap Seats:
  • Small Town Moon
  • Oh Marcello
  • Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
  • Firewood
  • Patron Saint
  • How
  • All the Rowboats
  • Ballad of a Politician
  • Open
  • The Party
  • Jessica

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