Review Summary: Soviet Kitsch is stripped down and beautiful yet sassy and sarcastic. Regina Spektor speaks her mind on all kinds of subjects, singing and writing lyrics with brilliance.
The little smirk on Regina Spektor’s face and the glint in her eyes is equal to the mystery of the Mona Lisa. Luckily, whoever did this album art gave little clues about Regina that show what this look really means. She’s staring at you, taking a good gulp of whatever’s in that bottle, and she’s not going to offer you any. Hell, she isn’t even going to put on anything special for you, just a plain white tanktop. That hat on her head is just for self-indulgence. It’s not that Regina isn’t a nice person; she just doesn’t care what you think. She doesn’t care about you, period. But she will tell you what’s on her mind. Gladly. That’s why she has Soviet Kitsch.
Soviet Kitsch is about as simple as it gets. Regina Spektor possesses a fantastic singing voice with equally as fantastic lyrical writing skill and wit. She weaves stories with the skill of a novelist yet tells them so simply it’s like hearing your neighbor tell you about her day. Her lyrics and messages are clearly the focus of the album, as she works in strange accelerandos and ritardandos (speed ups and slow downs) to get in everything she has to say, seen most prominently in Poor Little Rich Boy
. The song describes an ignorant, arrogant boy who has no values and has much to learn. As she sings, she has a piano and percussion that sounds like a drummer playing on a table for accompaniment. With the simple instrumentation, she takes the song through a couple odd-feeling tempo changes to get all her words in. Poor Little Rich Boy
shows off many of Spektor’s typical tactics to creating a unique and still catchy song, including her relentless repetition. The song closes with two lines repeated ad nauseam- “You’re so god damn young” and “You don’t love your girlfriend.” Brilliantly, the tempo changes keep it from getting too repetitious. Poor Little Rich Boy
is the perfect capitulation of all her typical techniques.
Still, Spektor makes sure things don’t get predictable. While she finds herself most comfortable singing with just a piano accompaniment, she steps out of her shell more than a few times. Your Honor
has a full rock band playing with her, although it is technically terribly produced and played sloppily. However, that’s just the intention of the song. It’s short and also gives a good break with a beautiful piano interlude. Us
, although not the longest song on the album, feels the most epic because of the wonderful string arrangements and its uptempo and fleeting style. Regina’s voice sings perfectly above the lush mix of piano and strings, with the accompaniment giving her direction, power, and support. Ode to Divorce
, the beautiful album opener, takes the strings but uses them in a sparser manner, only to give a few swells here and there.
As a whole, Soviet Kitsch is a wonderful stripped down pop album. Regina’s voice never tires as she throws in various inflections that make her who she is; they give her a unique sassiness and style. Her lyrics are perfectly crafted into the songs, even when she has to take a few detours to get everything out in one breath. From cancer to divorce to the soulless “big suits”, Spektor speaks her opinion on all of them. Despite its stripped down style and basic harmonic structure, Soviet Kitsch has plenty of replay value and possesses some superb songs that will infect your mind.
Ode to Divorce
Poor Little Rich Boy
Ghost of Corporate Future