Regina Spektor — Remember Us to Life Album Review
Upon reflecting that the name Regina literally means Queen, it’s really no surprise that Regina Spektor is exactly that. She is, in my humble opinion, the best lyricist of this era, constantly crafting songs that are relatable, funny, quirky, and heartbreaking, sometimes all in the same span of 3 and a half minutes. Look back at her discography and there are some real classics hidden there, from the epic Us to the bouncy Ne me quitte pas (Don’t Leave Me). And on her seventh (!) album, Spektor proves that over the years, she still hasn’t lost form but has perhaps gotten stronger, wittier, and more daring than ever before.
Spektor was always the type to experiment into different genres, and her newest release, Remember Us to Life, sees her breaking boundaries like never before. Small Bill$ is a foray into rap and Bleeding Heart features some synths, but make no mistake, her strong vocals and signature piano playing are still at the forefront. This both helps and hinders her; End of Thought is one of her most beautiful songs yet while The Light is perhaps one of her most predictable. But the risks Spektor does take pay off. The strings in Older and Wiser help complement her light, airy tone while still keeping the song grounded during its more cynical lines (“Enjoy your youth/Sounds like a threat/But I will anyway”). The centerpiece of the album, Tornadoland, features a whirlwind of sound that evoke an actual tornado, and the constantly changing tempo keeps the listener on his toes. One could easily run through the full album here and list off why they’re all so good, but it’d be more effective just to listen and find out.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Regina Spektor album without a couple pretty awful tracks, and Remember Us to Life delivers in this facet as well. The Trapper and the Furrier, while thought-provoking and dramatic, is cringe-worthy at times, and The Light, also possessing redeeming qualities, ultimately comes across as pretty boring compared to its peers.
Ultimately, Regina Spektor is a storyteller. She always has been; her words have a way of taking the ordinary, familiar parts of life and making them beautiful. The profound from the mundane. She has a song called Folding Chair. She sings about meat markets and crossing the street and finding old wallets. And it’s all fantastic because she has a gift for raising questions and answers out of the things we never consider. We’ve been to the lake, to the beach, to her hometown. On the penultimate track of her new album, Sellers of Flowers, she places the listener in yet another location of another story. We’re walking through a street, with young Spektor and her father, on a chilly winter evening. Flower vendors are selling old roses that are just going to die by the morrow, so she keeps walking (“We never bought them, but somebody must have”). So who wins, she asks? If the flowers are dying and it’s cold out and the people are buying these temporary objects and the sellers are cheating their customers, who comes out on top? “Not the roses, not the buyers, not the sellers… not the fathers, not their children… maybe winter. Maybe winter.” Maybe winter. But who cares? The point is: you don’t have to. It’s just a meaningless song… or is it? Maybe in the end, we can’t really change anything, or win at all, despite all of our different methods and motivations. In the end, it’s the earth and the world and the changing seasons that have the control. We’re powerless, and that can be scary. But you’d never think so, hearing it sung from such a sweet voice.
Best Songs: Older and Taller, Tornadoland, Sellers of Flowers, End of Thought
For more listening, check out Regina Spektor’s older albums; there’s something for everyone. Far has more of a classic, piano-driven sound and What We Saw From The Cheap Seats is more of an experimental record. Those are just my two favorites, there’s plenty more though! Happy listening, and if you liked this article please share it!