Part-time contributor to Monolith, Marc Lawrence tackles the 2009 album ‘Far’ by Regina.

 

‘Far’ 2009

Regina Spektor
‘Far’
(Sire)

Tiny, bosomy and mad as a brush, Russian-born émigré Regina Spektor’s sixth album, ‘Far’, released on Sire, is easily her most approachable to date. Every track works by itself, and melds together to create an easily listenable whole. Spektor’s trademarks – her left-field, abstract song writing, classically-trained background and epiglottis vocal gymnastics married to expertly structured piano arpeggios – are here in spades, but this album springs to life from the first listen, unlike a lot of her earlier offerings, which at times feel like a degree in music or some sort of endless supply of barbiturates is needed to actually enjoy them.

From the jolly oomph-band rhythm of opener ‘The Calculation’, through the theological considerations of’ Laughing With’ and former ELO-man Jeff Lynne produced album highlight Human of the Year, to the closing trembling notes of waltz-esque ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’, there’s not really a duff track here. A couple you feel could have been left off without too much damage done (Dance Anthem of the 80’s is the weakest track, and feels like the token “quirky” effort), but none of these songs are bad. With ‘Far’ you get the impression (if you’ve heard Regina’s previous offerings, particularly the moody ‘Mary Ann Meets the Gravediggers’ and earlier, even lower-fi ‘Soviet Kitsch’ and ‘11:11’) benefits enormously from the higher budget production evident here.

Regina Spektor’s loyal, hardcore fans, the ones who’ve been on board since ‘Mary Ann…’ and before (like the girl stood next to me in the marquee in Hyde Park who screamed in my ear at the top of her voice, as Regina banged out the first notes of ‘Us’: “this song is about my life!!”) will love ‘Far’. Regina branches out into user-friendly pastures new, but she doesn’t make the mistake that so many others who have made the move to mainstream have, forgetting what she’s all about. Instead, she sticks to what she’s good at, but adds a little something new, all of which means ‘Far’ will appeal to fans and new recruits alike.

Marc Lawrence

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