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Regina Spektor - Far

2009-08-21 08:19
Darling of New York's indie folk scene – and everybody else who digs her female singer/songwriter thing ever since her single "Fidelity" broke big – she unashamedly wears her heart on her sleeve. Her songs are little sketches, stories about love and boys and making computers out of macaroni and whatnot. The album cover says it all: a lonesome girl sitting at a piano full of dreamy clouds. If quirk isn’t your bag, though, you may want to steer well clear of this one.

Although Spektor's voice is distinctive - in fact, almost too much so, I find it intrudes too much for this to be background music - I still can't shake the feeling that she hasn't quite found her sound just yet. And this despite Far being her fifth studio album. "Human of the Year" sounds like it belongs on an Aimee Mann record. "Machine" is predictably Bjork-esque. "Laughing With" has got Kate Bush's fingerprints on it. It's when she goes into deliriously poppy overdrive that her songs come out sounding all her own, like the infectious opening track "The Calculation" and the loopy "Dance Anthem of the 80's".

Spektor is best when it sounds like she’s having fun performing for a bunch of close friends, and you're in the in-group. And when she takes it down a few notches to create something like the breathy "Eet", the results are soppy in the best possible way. Despite the scattershot style of the album and whimsy bordering on the annoying, Spektor pulls it all off through bucket loads of charm and an adorable Russian inflection to her singing. She just seems too nice to hold any of her flaws against her.
There's all sorts of backstories that can go into a Regina Spektor review: her Russian heritage, her classical piano training...blah blah blah. But really, there's only one thing that matters here: she makes some damn pretty tunes.

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