Regina Spektor : What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
It’s a disservice to any artist to judge a new work on the providence of the old, but it is hard to listen to Regina Spektor’s sixth record without feeling like a light is going out somewhere. The Russian born-Brooklyn raised troubadour has done some brilliant things in songwriting, especially when her predilection for bright-eyed whimsy is indulged just enough to let her astute observations of the wonderful absurdity of love shine. Remember songs like Fidelity and On The Radio? They were undeniably wonderful; sweet and melancholy, both joyful and fascinating. They were songs that made your soul feel like it was tipsily climbing into the back of a taxi on the way to a sparkling new adventure.
There is precious little of that here. Instead the listener is treated to shovel-loads of cloying bullshit; bubblegum twee-pop wrapped in vocal ticks and po-mo grunting that demands your attention with about as much grace as the manager of a call centre reinventing herself as a burlesque artist.
There are touches of what your humble reviewer liked so much about Spektor on previous efforts. The tearjerker ‘How’ is a simple, soulful torch song that reaches into the heart of this record and wrenches it out, almost as if to show you how great it could have been just before it stops beating.
You feel curmudgeonly listening to this record. You resent that Spektor seems to be cynically cashing in on the ‘adorkable’ sub-culture championed by Zooey Deschanel. But then, Spektor went a long way towards championing that culture in years past. It’s hard for any artist who had promising beginnings to eclipse their own shadow, but this is a case of Spektor’s children coming back to eat her – presumably at some kind of picnic. What We Saw from the Cheap Seats could have been called Miranda July Phones It In, which would be a better idea of what you'll hear from the cheap seats.
BY LIAM PIEPER
Best Track: How
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Cooking and mainlining nutrasweet.
In A Word: Urgh.