By Sam Tornow, Editorial Director
Key Tracks: “Bleeding Heart,” “Older and Taller,” “Small Bill$”
If eccentricity in pop music, a genre overrun with 4/4 time signatures and elementary storytelling, is a breath of fresh air, then Regina Spektor is the first 50-degree day after a long winter. After gaining a huge fanbase following her appearance on multiple indie rom-com soundtracks, Spektor has remained relevant by never being one to ride the status quo. Deriving her style from a wide range of influences such as Broadway musicals and classic literature, every release of hers has been quirky and colorful. Remember Us to Life, Spektor’s first solo release in four years, is no different.
Spektor’s schtick has always been her ability to convey truthful, slice-of-life themes into simple, shower-thought statements. Luckily for old fans, Remember Us to Life wastes no time getting to the meat of her wit. After the initial, poppy introduction to the album, “Bleeding Heart,” she dives into a late-Beatles–McCartney groove, entitled “Older and Taller”. Here, Spektor lays down a dreamy piano melody, underneath the scintillating lines, “Enjoy your youth sounds like a threat, but I will anyway.”
In a further exposition of her songwriting and instrumental prowess, Spektor continues to tread through the 46-minute run time with “Small Bill$”. Spektor throws her voice around like silly putty, constantly molding the track over a percussive, hip-hop beat. Being no stranger to ignoring genre lines, “Small Bill$” is exactly the type of track which has taken Spektor to indie superstardom.
The remaining songs of the album weave together into what feels like an unending, elegant piano run. Straying away from the liveliness of the first half of the album, the second half winds down, putting Spektor’s narrative ability in the spotlight. With alluring allegories of flower vendors, a visit from an old friend and fur trappers, Spektor masterfully paints the back-half of the album with themes of wasted youth, the pairing of time and fear, and the corruption of power.
However, like most albums in her discography, Remember Us to Life reaches for the sky but never puts forth the effort to fly. Even with its positive points, Spektor’s latest effort remains in her safe zone, not pushing her lyrical or instrumental boundaries. Thankfully, her safe-space is consistently an entertaining one, but for Spektor to stay relevant amongst other modern, indie songwriters, she’s going to need to take a leap of faith, and soon.