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Monday, October 26, 2009

REGINA SPEKTOR

REGINA SPEKTOR
FAR (2009)
320 KBPS

"Far" is the follow-up to 2006's album "Begin to Hope", whose catchy tunes and quirky blend of folk-pop propelled the Russian-born New York songstress from the obscurity of New York's bar circuit to the fame and fortune of David Letterman and adverts for Vodafone. "Begin To Hope" saw numerous tracks used on the likes of Grey's Anatomy (this is known as the Gary Lightbody's Goldplated Mansion Method). Any criticism of "Begin To Hope" however stemmed from it's accessibility, the edges were smooth and the eccentricities muted. With those reservations in mind, it's nice to listen to a record to hear that features amongst its treats Regina imitating a dolphin and telling the story of a lost wallet. Three years on, this CD is just as remarkable and whimsical.
At first listen the polished production threatens to push Spektor into Middle-Of-the-Road Katie Melua territory, but her uncanny ability to write melodies that are simultaneously familiar and challenging, coupled with lyrics that are idiosyncratic yet everyday (from an expose of atheism to an aria on a lost wallet) make this a richly rewarding album.
"She enlists four producers - ex-ELO frontman Jeff Lynne (Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney), Jacknife Lee (Editors, Bloc Party) and Fiona Apple mentor Mike Elizondo among them - to perfectly frame a baker's dozen of tracks that take idiosyncrasy to delicious new heights of oddball inventiveness"..."Far showcases a singer-songwriter of considerable (if occasionally unfocused to the point of unhinged) ability. But behind Spektor's cutesy cartoon outlines lie songs full of adult drama and detail that catch the imagination when you're least expecting them to". -BBC
Talking about one of the four producers, Jeff Lynne, Regina admits that she didn't know who he was when she hired him, but the decision to recruit ELO lush soundscapes' maestro to produce numerous tracks on her fifth studio album has proven a happy accident. In fact he adds sumptuousness to tracks such as "Blue Lips", but the Russian New Yorker is too restless to stay in one mode for long. She's at her best telling intimate, piano-based fables on the environment, and at her worst when making direct statements (the atheist-bashing banality of "Laughing With", where she sings "No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests/ No one's laughing at God when it's gotten real late/ And their kid's not back from the party yet").
All in all, "Far" is a unique and interesting journey that, whilst failing to match the highs of "Soviet Kitsch" shows progression from "Begin To Hope" and finds a nice balance between the odd and the beautiful. Take your time, don't rush, the album will grow on you.


1. The Calculation
2. Eet
3. Blue Lips
4. Folding Chair
5. Machine
6. Laughing With
7. Human Of The Year
8. Two Birds
9. Dance Anthem Of The 80's
10. Genius Next Door
11. Wallet
12. One More Time With Feeling
13. Man Of A Thousand Faces
Bonus Tracks
14. Time Is All Around
15. The Sword & the Pen
16. Laughing With (Video Mix)
17. Dance Anthem of the 80's (Video Mix)
18. Eet (Video Mix)
19. Man of a Thousand Faces (Video Mix)

2 comments:

Purgatori said...

Songs for Vodafone? Think I'll pass on this one :P

Mr Moodswings said...

Your loss.