Review Summary: Mix a bit of Soviet Kitsch's unique quirkiness with a touch of Begin to Hope's catchy hooks. Add Regina's consistent, personal songwriting along with her mellifluous voice... and vio-là, you get her best album to date: Far.
I don’t know Regina Spektor personally, but I can safely assume I’ve met her time and time again. She’s THAT girl; you know the one. She sits in class with a permanent, beaming smile on her exuberant face every day of the week. While her persistent grin may become a bit irritating at times, more often than not it brightens your day. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing this songstress before, try to imagine what would happen if Feist
and Rilo Kiley
got together and gave birth to a child that shared their talents. I’ll admit, I approached Far, her latest album, with some apprehension. Would this be the sparse and quirky Regina of Soviet Kitsch, or would Far be more along the lines of Begin to Hope, her pop-infused effort three years ago? With Far, Spektor performs a balancing act very well. She unleashes 13 songs that blend the intimate songwriting and quirkiness of Soviet Kitsch with the catchy, accessible pop sensibilities of Begin to Hope, all while remaining undeniably cute and endearing with her sweet, mellifluous voice.
The first four songs embody a cheerful and jovial atmosphere, as Spektor is delightful and charming. Her piano-driven melodies have never been as spot-on as they are on “The Calculation.” The first five seconds of this pleasant little ditty are very telling of the rest of the album, they command that a smile goes on your face and your head begins bobbing at that very instant. “Eet” starts out in the more somber, reserved tone of Soviet Kitsch as Spektor recalls the sad feeling of forgetting the words to a favorite song:“You were always singin’ along/It was so easy/And the words so sweet/You can’t remember/You try to feel the beat.”
Though, about halfway through the song, Regina can’t help but once again embrace her catchier, pop side.
Tracks 3 and 4, “Blue Lips” and ”Folding Chair,” follow in a similar vein. “Blue Lips”
takes a more introspective, sober tone, while “Folding Chair” is the most upbeat number on Far. Regina dangles charming little lines like…
“Let's get a silver bullet trailer and have a baby boy/I'll safety pin his clothes all cool and you'll graffiti up his toys/I've got a perfect body, but sometimes I forget/I've got a perfect body, 'cause my eyelashes catch my sweat/yes they do,”
…that will make you cringe with delight when you hear them. This portion of the album is a perfect example as to why Spektor shines so brightly on Far. My two personal favorites of Spektor’s are also her two most unlike on the album, once again showcasing this balancing act that she performs with ease.
Now, at this point you may be wondering why I have concentrated so heavily on the first four tracks. Unfortunately, Spektor’s steam runs out a bit after “Folding Chair.” Regina’s smooth vocals voice and catchy piano hooks keep the album moving, but not much else sticks out. “Laughing With” provides good single material with its memorable lyrics, but not much else. “Two Birds" through “One More Time with Feeling” don’t quite live up to the expectations set with the first four outstanding tracks. “Man of A Thousand Faces” ends Far very appropriately. Regina outfits this track with very personal lyrics and a new found subdued tone. This solid track concludes an excellent album.
I can’t help but to recommend this album to anybody who enjoys relaxing with a smile on their face, possibly on a warm summer morning with a cool iced tea in hand. The dichotomy of personal and quirky lyrics blended with her catchier pop melodies make this record difficult not to love. Far isn’t the most dense or meaningful of albums, but it’s very accessible and sure to put a smile on your face. Unlike the girl with the everlasting grin, Regina manages to be tirelessly upbeat without crossing the line into irritating territory. And who knows? Listen to Far enough and you might become a little more like the perpetually smirking person than you realize.
Man of a Thousand Faces