Vagrant Journalism

Published pieces from the past, the present and of the potential future.

6 July 09 – Regina Spektor ‘Far’

Posted by Christina on July 6, 2009

far-cover-artThis was quite the enchanting album. I had never really delved into the Regina Spektor sphere before I did this review and it was an interesting ride to say the least. Her voice is so unique and the content of her instrumentation and lyrics were nothing like I had heard. I’ll have to really spend some time with this five album strong discography of hers after this.

Ground Control Magazine: Regina Spektor ‘Far’

ARTIST: Regina Spektor – [Album]
DATE: 07-06-09
REVIEW BY: Christina Nersesian
LABEL: Warner/Sire

Regina Spektor’s latest release is undoubtedly a testament to her limitless creativity. Her fifth full-length studio album to date, Far is an absolute thrilling 13-track voyage through the inexhaustible psyche of one of the most imaginative and versatile songstresses of our time. Warbling vocals and a stylistic signature all her own, the quirky qualities of phonetic track titles, unorthodox pronunciations and pleasantly unusual content provide fodder for success to repeat the reception of her chart-topping 2006 release, Begin to Hope.

The album kicks off with “The Calculation,” an overall uplifting tune and surprise love song with a polka-esque introduction. Dark matters of the innards of emotional complexities along with the simplistic naïveté transform computers into child’s play and macaroni art. Already, this track is quite the attention grabber. It’s a universally palatable tune that not only displays her musical capabilities but stands to be a pretty sweet hip-swaying jam as well.

An unconventional lovelorn song, “Folding Chair” presents syncopated beats, a dancey feel-good piano with mirrored guitar staccato, a sock-hop kind of clap and a pretty uncanny dolphin impression. Toes in the sand and yearning for love in the air, this song invokes fading images of a 1950s coastline—silver bullet trailers, baby clothes safety-pinned to convenience and the innocence of sweet hand holding. It’s a track just in time for our summer swelter.

Transported into an almost Orwellian industrial timeline, Spektor delivers the seemingly inane and banal every day musings of a cyborg in “Machine.” The percussive background procures images of clanking metals, steel furnaces and factory exhaust. Her piano presses on in the background, imitating the perpetual and repetitive assembly line motion of industry.

Pretty uncharacteristic of the rest of the album—or even what we might expect from the bright blue-eyed, cherub cheeked and crimson lipped siren overall—this track is a surprise exploration of Spektor’s daring capabilities. Her vocal rage is showcased and appropriately processed in the right places, making her chorus of “hooked into machine” sound like she really is hooked to something. Safe to say this is the most interesting track on the album.

The first single released, “Laughing With,” is not the most accurate attestant to the diverse and rather individual collection of songs on the album, but it’s quite the exceptional track. The melancholy melody is diligent throughout each stanza with deep chords throughout. It remains even as the somewhat uplifting chorus chimes in, creating the most perfect and stark contrast to the lyrical content.

Her gorgeous voice rings aloud throughout the album and especially in the chorus of “Human of the Year.” The repetitive chant of “Hallelujah” travels to varying vocal heights and just might give Leonard Cohen’s often covered track a run for its money.

Songs like “Eet” are quite signature to Spektor character as a musician and lyricist, using a sound phonetically spelled instead of an actual word. This goes back to her Moscow-to-United States childhood where learning English was based on her understanding of sounds and what she associated to be their meanings instead of actual words.

Then there are tracks like “Dance Anthem of the 80s” where she employs a bit of beat-boxing and imitates the percussive and simplistic piano melody with her vocals. As the melody repeats and continues into the next stanza on the piano, her vocals move on, creating a harmony showcasing a true utilization of voice as an instrument. Other than that, it’s the most dancey you’ll ever feel while listening to the word “sleep” over and over again.

Uniquely imagined mythic fables ring throughout “Genius Next Door,” a track about an enchanted lake and its encircling town. Galloping, wavelike arpeggios ebb and flow like a musical tide and chords climb to harmonic heights. Then as the second to last track, “One More Time With Feeling” is quite appropriately placed. Its communal sing-a-long feel invokes that sort of end of the night, maybe a few drinks in, but overall happy feel.

Far is an album riddled with beautifully concocted piano melodies, intoxicating vocals and cleverly crafted content. Each track is sung with such conviction that the listener is instantaneously transported to Spektor’s otherworldly playpen of imagination. The most inspirational sounding songs have the most inane scenarios and the paradox is wonderful, giving it the cherry topping Regina Spektor signature. The album may not adhere to the almost formulaic standards of most album releases we’ve come to expect from the Fionas, Alanises, Jonis and Toris of the female singer-songwriter world. Regardless, Far is clearly a composite of the heavy lyricism and stellar musicianship of lore along with Spektor’s undeniable style, eccentric and lovely all at once.

One Response to “6 July 09 – Regina Spektor ‘Far’”

  1. mistersilva74 said

    I truly believe this will be one of the greatest albums this year! Stunning songs all along in a very balanced work of art!

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