Regina Spektor is a Russian born artist trying to make a name for herself in the American music scene. Thus far, it is working...though it may freak some people out. See, Ms. Spektor isn't your typical female singer/songwriter. Far from it in fact. She integrates her soothing, and sometimes awkward voice into beautifully arranged piano-driven music. But then she takes that rather basic sound throws it in a blender with a nice portion of quirkiness and utter strangeness. Think Fiona Apple, if Fiona Apple was in fact more insane than she already is.
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what this young lady is thinking. Her lyrics are some of the most off the wall and random lyrics I have ever heard. I'm not even entirely sure if she actually has one solid meaning behind the songs. Any listeners of her debut "Soviet Kitsch" know exactly what I am talking about. The critics either loved the unique compositions, are shunned them as effortless crap. She did everything from beat box (a very sad attempt at it I must say), sing loud and obnoxiously with random noises I did not know a woman was capable of, sing such wonderful lines as "your children have grown and you've never made your wife moan" and "gargle with peroxide a stake for your eye, but I'm a vegetarian so it's a frozen pizza pie.", and yet somehow she made one of the most beautiful and interesting albums I've heard in a long time.
"Begin To Hope", her follow up to that album, takes Regina's interesting style to the next level, progressing into something more layered and mature than her previous effort. It's more tame on the quirkiness, but heavy on atmosphere, catchiness, beauty, and still those random outburts of strangeness.
What we have here is Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" on acid, so to speak. An artisic endeavor into uncharted territory. Something no one has really heard before, not quite in this fashion. The album kicks off with the bump-worthy "Fidelity" with pounding ghetto like bass and thick piano. A very catchy song that is undoubtedly one of the most single-worthy on the album. This leads into the first single off the album, called "Better". This is a unique song for her, as a pretty piano intro leads into a mainly guitar driven song. Something she has not done much of in her career. It's a very catchy song once more, and her lyrics present an unusual sense of normalcy that Regina doesn't usually present. Her voice is held in check but still shines without doing anything too fancy.
There are quite a few tracks on here that provide that catchy, single worthy feel. "On the Radio" is another one, an electronic influenced song again with heavy bass and piano. The "Hotel Song" once again does the same thing, mainly bass oriented with synth and Regina's voice carrying the song throughout. "That Time" kicks it with an extremely simple guitar riff that repeats through the entire song and is by far the the most quirky song on the album...and the one that sounds most like it would've been on her previous album.
But the real gems of the album lie in Regina's more stripped down, personal songs. "Samson" for example is a real work of art. Undoubtedly her most beautiful song ever created, it provides some heartfelt lyrics, a creative and pretty piano part and some nice building and swelling strings. A song that deserves many repeated listens. As does another one of her slower songs...the wonderful "Field Below". Just her and her piano in a slow jazz-like ballad. Perfect late night driving music and a song that will surely give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Her voice has that effect.
Classic piano influenced songs like "Apres Mois" and "Summer in the City" have a dark feel to them but are standout tracks without question. Regina has the undeniable ability to change moods throughout the album without affecting the general flow of it all. It's quite a wonderful thing to hear it all come together so wonderfully.
With this album, Ms. Spektor should be gaining more attention. She has put together one of the greatest female singer/songwriter albums in years...right up there with the greats of Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Neko Case. With time she should have the respect they all get. She deserves every ounce of attention she gets. This is an album that doesn't come along often. Take it, enjoy it, savor it, love it. Goodbye.