Regina Spektor – What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Regina is back! This is very, very, very exciting news. Well, it is if you’re a big fan and have been rocking in your chair for the past three years in need of your Spektor fix. Her new album, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but it’s Regina; adorable, vibrant and most of all, quirky.
For the album, Spektor has dusted off and polished one of her older record, Don’t Leave me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) which was one of her self-released songs in 2002. She also did the same with the track, Samson, which was reworked for the Begin to Hope album. Despite the seemingly cheerless title of Don’t Leave Me, it’s actually pretty upbeat and you find yourself bopping along to her happy-go-lucky sound and lyrics like, “The frozen city starts to glow/ And yes, they know it will pass/ And yes, they know New York will thaw/ But if you are a friend of any sort/ Then play along and catch a cold.”
In the midst of every Regina album there is always a ballad that is sad, yet sincere. One of my favourites is from Spektor’s Soviet Kitsch album, a track named Chemo Limo, which is about a cancer-suffering mother of four who can’t afford chemotherapy. Depressing, I know, but poignant; the song stayed with me for weeks after my first listen. On What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, there are a couple of balled-y tracks that begs to be taken notice. First, Firewood, with the song starting with “The piano is not firewood yet.” The record, in my opinion, is about dying and the grief of losing someone. The lyrics are potent and with her softer vocals, the record is – forgive my sentimentality – something quite special. The melancholic feel is believable, as one of her close friends and cellist, Dan Cho, recently died in a drowning accident.
Another favourite from the album was the track Patron Saint, which fluctuates from cheery, up-tempo to a sound quite sorrowful, almost desperate, as Spektor repeats and again and again, “let go of her hand.” The track itself is intriguing as each time I listen I can interpret the song in a different way, but there is definitely instability and unrest at play here.
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats is a concoction of sweetness and misery, but done in Spektor’s effervescent style of kookiness. However, her kookiness can also be her downfall. Basically, if you’re a long-term fan of the Spektor, you’re more than likely going to worship this album, but the singer has got that Marmite thing going on and there is no in between; you’re either going to love or hate her.