Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Regina Spektor - Soviet Kitsch (2004) Album Review

I like Regina Spektor. Her voice blushes with versatility, and she has her own outlandish way of utilizing it. But regardless, she knows how to use it, no doubt about that. She plays a mean piano, and to top it all off, she's just utterly cute. Proof of cuteness come in little pieces. Her quirky live performance is a given, but let's dig a bit more. Say, a video footage from one of her concerts where she messes up Fidelity halfway through. But before that happens, everyone was singing along and having the time of their lives while she was playing the piano and singing to her heart's content. Then she stops singing, quickly fixates her eyes on the keyboard and realizes she has forgotten the notes. She tries to find the correct keys in a panic - like a little kid who desperately scours for a lost toy in the midst of bedroom clutter - but utterly fails, ultimately ruining the song. Everyone starts to laugh and she starts to laugh as well. Ashamed, she continues trying to find the right keys, but then decides to just finish the part by singing a-capella, now with the whole room singing with her. Ecstatic applause follows. Really, you just have to see it for yourself. Now, I don't know if this is just vendored naivete trying to win audiences over with oozing cuteness, but let's leave that particular train of thought to the "professionals".

Ts-tss-ts-ts-tss... stoyle.
What's this all got to do with this album - you might ask. Well, I am talking about her because listening to Regina Spektor really isn't just about the music. More importantly, it's about her. When you listen to her records for a bit, and when you get to know her a bit (her public persona, that is), you begin to adapt a habit of thinking of this sweet, coy, honest, humble, talented artist behind that peculiar wall of sound. In some cases, you'll probably forgive the excessive peculiarity only because it is she who's singing. I can't exactly pin-point which version of my "Spektor-liking" self is listening when her stuff is playing. But damn, she sure is a delight.

I don't think I've ever heard a voice with this much personality before. It's as if you can see the fibers of her being in all its eccentricities. And perhaps you'll find it less and less spontaneous with each listen (most notably Carbon Monoxide's "walk-a walk-a walk-a" gimmick), but there's actually another barrier to break, one with no vocal surprises but with profundity, or perhaps vagueness masked in profundity, whichever floats your boat. But it's evident that she's a gifted writer and poet.

In Ode To Divorce, she pictures being stuck inside her ex-boyfriend's mouth who engages in a passionate "killer" lip-locking with his new girlfriend, but then proceeds to do something as unflattering as begging for money right afterwards. Way to throw everyone off the mood, Spektor. But clever, I must say you... I can say the same for Chemo Limo, which espouses dying in style, hence the limo, rather than try grueling chemo for chances of a cure. Having "crispy crispy Benjamin Franklin" synonymous to money is also a nice touch. Most of the poetry is subjective and open to individual perception, but not overly vague for everyone to develop a deep liking for all things "Spektor". Just have the patience to keep an eye out for it, lest you end up with another female with a fancy way of singing about nothing.

My score:
7 out of 10

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