Although Regina Spektor was no newbie – the classically trained, Moscow-born pianist already had two LPs to draw from and was a familiar face on New York’s then burgeoning anti-folk scene – it was 2004’s Soviet Kitsch, which launched her international career. With each subsequent record, Spektor’s sound become more polished, yet her newfound sheen was always balanced by odd enunciation and surprising vocal rhythms: ticks that kept her distinct.
For this fourth album she’s reteamed with producer Mike Elizondo (Eminem) and unfortunately it’s her most traditional offering yet: mid-tempo numbers ‘How’, ‘Jessica’ and ‘Firewood’ are sweet yet ultimately unremarkable. Where Spektor excels is during the building drama of ‘All the Rowboats’, or on ‘The Party’, where she blows melodic raspberries backed by brass. Then there’s the minimalist grace of ‘Open’, punctuated by strangulated gasps. The yo-yoing ‘Small Town Moon’ is a refreshing reminder of her ability to unify the dual aspects of her craft, because truly, Spektor’s spark lies in indulging her whimsy.