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Best of 2012 #7: What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

Regina Spektor has long been one of my favorite artists---in fact, before Marina & the Diamonds took over early this year, Regina Spektor had reigned as my favorite artist for over a year. From the quiet, soul-punchingly perfect imperfection of Songs, to the warm melodies of Soviet Kitsch (my personal favorite album of hers), to the chipper piano ditties of Begin To Hope, to the luscious, flowing production of Far, all of Regina's work has been absolutely amazing[1. An avid Regina fan may have noticed that I skipped her first album, 11:11, here, and that's because I haven't actually listened to it yet. I know, shocking. It's because of the fact that it's impossible to obtain 11:11 on CD, because it was self-released by Regina, and my rigid music listening schedule hasn't allowed me a time yet to buy the digital release from iTunes. I'm sure I will someday find the time to give it a try, as I have heard it's a very beautiful, very jazzy album, and I will make it my goal to one day own that beautiful first-edition CD from Regina's own handiwork, just as I dream of owning other such rare works such as Enchant by Emilie Autumn and Mermaid vs Sailor by Marina & the Diamonds. Ah, a girl can dream. A girl can dream.].

For the longest time, however, for some reason I can't even explain, I have been afraid that Regina Spektor had stopped making music. I do not know why. I can recall listening to Far for the first time (it was already out by the time I discovered Regina, and I discovered her through Begin To Hope) and thinking it sounded so strange that there was new work by her. You can imagine how surprised, albeit overjoyed, when Regina Spektor announced on Facebook the name of her new album, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats. I was even more overjoyed to see Regina release yet another breathtaking album cover.


If you couldn't tell, I'm quite into album art. Regardless, when I took a trip down to the music store on my birthday to buy Regina Spektor's new CD, I was very excited, yet I didn't really know what to expect. Here's what you should expect: the sound on WWSFTCS is very happy, very excited, but very contained. It feels very well produced, especially considering the fact that Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) is a remake of a song from her second album. My favorite tracks on the album were the darker, more electronic sounding ones: All The Rowboats and Ballad of a Politician. All The Rowboats compares museums full of paintings to tombs full of protected corpses and Ballad of a Politician compares important men shaking hands and doing nothing to prostitutes on the street. Both songs are beautiful. When I say that these songs are "electronic," I don't mean in a Lights kind of way. Regina customizes her style to each song. In Ballad of a Politician, she uses a vocoder to give the song that extra mysterious, sad feeling, and the effect, I must say, is stunning, and All The Rowboats emphasizes her classic piano melody with sounds and effects that make you feel like you're in the museum at night listening to the violins dying in their coffins. It's really quite beautiful.

Patron Saint is another of my favorite tracks on this album, but contrasting with the previous two, this is a very upbeat song with nonetheless a sad meaning. This song isn't upbeat in a similar style as Begin To Hope, however, the usage of other instruments like drums along with her classic piano gives the music an entirely different feel which is just lovely. Also mentionable is The Party, a short, happy song at the end of which Regina breaks into making trumpet noises with her mouth like in Lounge from Songs, the beauty of which makes me tear up sometimes. It's really an uplifting song. Listening to this album just makes me feel good.

I never really got into How, however, which many have praised as one of the highlights of the album, so your mileage may vary when listening to this album. I still recommend this as one of the best albums released this year, and if you're a fan of Regina you should definitely give it a listen: it's classic Regina while also going off in a completely new direction, and that's just the way we like her.

Hatkirby on December 24th, 2012 at 6:00:57pm
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