Album Review: Regina Spektor - What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

15 May 2012 | 2:14 pm | Robert Townsend once again proves Regina Spektor to be a unique, bold and quite brilliant musician.

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Everyone's favourite Russian-born New Yorker is back with her sixth long-player, and on this new offering she continues to be quite the dichotomy; part beautiful piano-playing balladeer, part oddball who litters her songs with bizarre vocal ticks.

What We Saw... gets seriously impish as early as the second song, Oh Marcello, as Spektor sings in an Italian accent, “The Madonna/When she speak/She tell the truth, no?” and creates mock drum beats using her voice. Next, the bouncy Don't Lean On Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) is, as you might expect, sung half in English and half in French.

Elsewhere, things aren't so barmy, and there are clear examples of how Spektor has gradually edged a little toward the mainstream. But for a few selectively placed trademark “oohs”, How is the kind of sweeping, weepy ballad that would be as much at home on an Adele album as it is here. “How can I try to love someone new? Someone who isn't you?” she yearns. To be honest, it's unrepresentatively and unnecessarily melodramatic in its emotion and lacks the solemn genius of something like Samson. The record though is immediately set back on track by the next song, current single All The Rowboats a dark, dizzying and exciting monster which, once again, features Spektor's mouth drumming – doof, doof, doof.

Ending with Jessica, a gentle ditty over acoustic guitar, What We Saw... won't be to everyone's taste. It's perhaps too odd for the uninitiated and not odd enough for old school fans, but it once again proves Regina Spektor to be a unique, bold and quite brilliant musician.

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