The Verse’s Will Craigie shares his thoughts on anti-folk songstress Regina Spektor’s latest album, Remember Us To Life.
Regina Spektor could easily be put into the ‘quirky, female singer-songwriter’ category with other artists such as Sara Bareilles, Sia and, hell, even Lady Gaga. If they were to be disingenuous and callous, other reviewers could say she’s clearly influenced by the sounds of those who came before her, such as Fiona Apple and Kate Bush, but that would also be unfair. What separates Spektor is the crystal clear sincerity in her voice and her lyrical flair for storytelling (Olden and Taller laments a wasted youth brought on by a mid-life crisis) and a career which encompasses many characters: the ‘jazz artist’ on 11:11, the ‘indie alternative’ of Soviet Kitsch. It appeared she found a unique niche with her fourth album Begin To Hope, her most successful album up to that point, of whimsical anti-pop with a refreshing dose of honesty.
Remember Us To Life, Spektor’s first album in four years since What We Saw in Cheap Seats, is a hazy, dream-like listen with each song appearing to be fade into the next. The production mostly sticks to the formula established by previous albums. There is, however, suggestion that Spektor has been taken by modern trends as well; anti-materialism Small Bill$ could be a hiphop song recorded by Grimes, and events in the world are seen in The Trapper and The Furrier’s extremely relevant “This is a very strange world we live in” lyric and in the angry refrain of More, More More. Overall, this lack of change is endearing more than hindering. The sparse piano track The Light is beautiful in it’s simplicity and showcases Spektor’s increasing melodic voice. The songs don’t always land – Sellers Of The Flowers features Spektor slightly to0 firmly in her comfort zone – but the lyrics always remain thought-provoking and poetic, even when vague and told in riddles, where the emotional core of the song always comes through.