Regina Spektor, a singer that continues to test the boundaries of conventional music returned to the music scene this past Friday. The eccentric songwriter released her seventh album, “Remember Us to Life” on Sept. 30. Four years have passed since the Russian born singer released her last album, the hit or miss “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.” Fresh off from that break, Spektor decided to reuse some familiar tropes from her previous efforts while adding in some eclectic elements of classical music to add a new twist to her sound.
Born in the Soviet Union during the 80s, Spektor received classical piano training from her parents until they made the urgent decision to emigrate to the United States. This type of musical training, which values a considerable amount of structure and precision, has bled into the majority of her work over the years.
Spektor consistently relies solely on a piano and her voice to create ambient music and she uses the medium primarily to tell stories that analyze the ups and downs of life. Now married and with children, Spektor used her latest album to explore the new realities that come with aging as she analyzed the cruel tradeoff of youth for wisdom and experience. While these are typical themes that appear in plenty of songs, Spektor differentiated herself from others by hiding the world-weary cynicism behind pretty pop progressions and hopeful vocals.
The first track — and the lead single — “Bleeding Heart” married the aforementioned theme of aging with orchestra, miming synths and electronic beats that blend into an interesting mix of sounds. Her next song, “Older and Taller,” drew inspiration from The Beatles’ “Revolver,” with a beautiful mix of violins and piano that work in tandem with her soaring voice. “Grand Hotel,” with lush, symphonic production, took an outsider’s perspective on the strange lives of a collection of employees at a hotel. However, just when each track began to sound vaguely similar, Spektor unleashed “Small Bill$,” an amalgamation of hip-hop and classical music that would not sound out of place on Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.”
The random inclusion of a totally different sounding track in the middle of her album is what Spektor is famous for: setting thematic expectations and then subverting them through a collection of random and unique songs. Her unpredictability has served her well over the years and allows for her to explore different genres and styles with ease. After the sudden tonal shift, she eased back into a soft-spoken approach for the album’s final songs. The album closed out with a meditative, piano driven track entitled, “The Visit.” The song allowed the emotional theme of the album to come full circle, as Spektor appeared to accept the newfound challenges and opportunities that come with getting older, all as her piano slowly faded into the sweeping sounds of a lonely violin.
Fans of Spektor will continue to appreciate her storytelling abilities — along with her trademark unpredictability — while newcomers may be intrigued by the impressive and gorgeous production that flows through “Remember Us to Life.” Following a confident return to songwriting, Spektor proved that she still has a lot to say about life and a variety of experiences.