While Regina Spektor may have found a new audience with her single You’ve Got Time which doubles as the theme song for the Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black, there is much more to this artist and much more worth knowing and hearing.
Whether you are Laughing With God, believe you are the Human Of The Year, or just looking for the Dance Anthem of the 80’s, you have come to the right place when it comes to Regina Spektor’s 2009 release Far.
By far, Far is one of, if not the best albums to come out of the Russian-born New York City resident. The pianist is able to create fantastic narratives and often asks poignant thoughtful questions within her lyrics. Regina’s music is also featured heavily in the romantic date movie 500 Days of Summer which released in the same year of which I have a particularly strong affection for (both in terms of the movie and the soundtrack). However, we are not here to discuss the fabulous soundtrack of the movie listed above, or even more contemporary music from Regina, we are here because Far was a masterful example of an anti-folk music movement prevalent in New York at the time.
The album opens with The Calculation, a bouncy piano tune that suffices to get the listener’s mind in a happy place. The second track (and my favorite) however is where the album really gets started. Eet arrives and begins both slow and sobering, but as soon as the supporting cast behind Regina kick in, you can tell this is actually quite the opposite. The progression of the track ends up being fairly straightforward and simple however the lyrics are all about forgetting lyrics and trying to escape from your own mind and world which partner well with the exploratory musical interludes. Blue Lips follows this; another fantastic piece of writing, both lyrically and in its composition. The song is intensely personal and beautiful. The tone changes with the next track, Folding Chair. This is a peppy track, full of onomatopoeia, with bass drum and cymbals leading the rhythm section as piano accompanies. Machine, the next track is highly pessimistic lyrically, as Spektor criticizes the ever-increasing co-dependency on mechanical constructs (or so I interpret it). My second favorite track on the album shortly follows and maintains the sardonic tone set forth from Machine, Laughing With.
This is actually quite a beautiful track, yet incredibly hard-hitting lyrically, as Regina calls out the duplicitous nature humanity portrays when talking about God in times of joy versus times of struggle and pain. Human Of The Year picks up right where Laughing With ended, incorporating religious overtones to a fairly sarcastic track where Spektor sings about a Karl Projectorinski winning this fictitious award and his hesitancy to accept it. Then comes Two Birds, right on time to change both the mood and pace. The track is a welcome reprieve from the grave and somber tracks before it as it has the ability to lift both the listener’s mindset and mood. This track also marks a rather significant change on the album towards a much lighter side of music, maybe not tonally, but in terms of gravitas. Next, comes Dance Anthem Of The 80’s, a track that is precisely the opposite. While it does lend itself to a sort of bouncy dancing beat, there is very little resemblance to anything relatively 80’s-sounding at all.
Genius Next Door is an interesting track. As the piano completes scales, Regina sings about a mysterious lake that becomes thick like butter at night. This is followed by Wallet, a straightforward song about finding a wallet, reviewing its contents and then returning it and the lack of interaction, yet the joy this delivery will bring. One More Time With Feeling is a feel-good track which is odd considering the lyrics. Once again, Regina masks a fairly upbeat track with depressing lyrics about someone in the hospital not recovering as well as he should. Man Of A Thousand Faces closes out Far. Poetic framing creates beauty in the nuance found in this track. Once again religion is a central theme found in this track and throughout the album overall. The final two tracks are found on the Deluxe edition, but are well worth listening to. Time Is All Around is a fast-paced bouncy track which incorporates lovely imagery in a thought-provoking metaphor about leaves. The Sword & The Pen closes out the deluxe digital music download edition where Regina Spektor reverses some of the world’s more famous proverbs on their heads to excellent effect.
All-in-all, the album is a wonderful piece or musical workmanship. While not always incredibly complicated in composition, each song offers an emotional impact whether lyrically or tonally. Regina Spektor does sarcastic and sardonic well. She also has a flair for the lyrically dramatic and a penchant for creating catchy piano-led tunes. Far is an interesting and dynamic album where Spektor wrestles and confronts her relationship with religion and God. The tracks Eet, Blue Lips, Two Birds, Laughing With and Human Of The Year are standouts among a packed album with very little filler. While her albums prior and after do have some very memorable tracks, it is within Far that Regina Spektor is closest to creating the elusive “perfect album”.
Now Playing: Regina Spektor – Eet