Because there are a lot of those artists today. Forget one-hit wonders. In the last few years, there have been so many artists that had just enough energy and originality to sustain one album.
Regina Spektor is not one of those artists.
After her first major-label release, Begin to Hope, made all these heatseekers practically jizz in their pants two years ago, there have been several artists who’ve followed similar formulas for their albums – Lenka, Yael Naim, Meiko, Kate Nash, and Ingrid Michaelson. The soft-spoken piano songstress is a big thing these days, and Regina Spektor was one of the first women to bring it to MTV and VH1 with Begin to Hope.
And with her newest album, Far, she hasn’t strayed far from her initial qualities – the narrative style of her lyrics, her articulation, and the array of light and dancy tracks like “Dance Anthem of the 80s” and “The Calculation,” which would be a perfect choice for a first single for any other artist just starting if this were their first album. It would fit in nicely with all the other songs in the iPod commercials. But Regina took a different approach. She used track 6, “Laughing With,” a slow ditty about the times in your life when you chuckle at God, and those when it’s not appropriate.
There’s not a lot you can say about Far that is bad. It ascends and descends from darker, lower register songs intermingled with upbeat, radio-friendly songs, all while showing Regina’s wide range of vocal techniques. Normally, I’m not a big fan of vibrato-heavy songs, but Regina’s vibrato is different. Her naturally young-sounding voice isn’t quite as severe as say, Joanna Newsom, so it’s much more palatable for the masses.
The only song I found myself feeling not listening to over and over again was “Human of the Year.” It was just a bit too repetitive for my tastes, but the nice addition of strings to that track separates it from the rest of the album, which sticks more strictly to Regina’s piano.
But my favorite part of the whole album is “Wallet,” the shortest and simplest of all the songs. It sounds a lot like the old Regina, from Soviet Kitsch, before Begin to Hope. It adds just the right amount of cuteness for an otherwise sophisticated album, being a keen 2:28, keeping the nostalgic break short and sweet. Plus, it’s really easy to sing along to.
I don’t think you could ask for more from an album – radio-friendly songs, dancy hits, nostalgia, and great chill music to fall asleep to. All the stages of a great album are covered with Far.