Context – trying to use a fried brain to process basic information

Such as how to respond to email or make a basic to-do list of things I have to do today.

I’m not sure how much today’s album counts as “new to Jason” since my wife got this for Christmas and has listened to it several times by now.  We like to listen to a side of a record while we eat breakfast, so I’ve heard the first handful of tracks of this already, but haven’t done a proper sit-through yet.  I like Regina Spektor plenty, so it’s time to stop putting off the inevitable and get down to brass tax.  Or something.

10 points to whatever house can tell me what “brass tax” means outside of cliches, ’cause I have no idea where that comes from or why I just wrote it.

This album has proven to be a bit of a contradiction in my various circles: some love it, others hate it; some think it too pop-y, some too experimental; some think she’s deviating from what makes her great, some think this is a glorious return to form.

And the truth of the matter is all of that is true, depending on which track you get stuck about.

The first song, “Bleeding Heart”, is repetitive as hell and lends itself to pop-y sensibilities.  I totally understand that criticism, but I don’t feel like it holds up throughout the entire album.  I also am inclined to give Regina the benefit of the doubt that she’s not just trying to create an earworm, but is playing around with repetition in more “creative” ways, if I can get a bit pretentious and hypocritical about the effects of repetition in music.

The songs “Grand Hotel” and “The Light” return to her stripped down singer-and-a-piano model that she rode to prominence on Soviet Kitsch and Begin to Hope.  These songs are great and sound exactly how I’ve come to expect Regina to sound.  Which may be gratifying, may be uninspired, depending on your mood and history with the singer.

“Small Bill$” is weird and sees Regina experimenting with a darker tone and instrumentals than we usually get from her.  It’s not bad, though, just different.

So how does the whole album come together?  Mostly well.  Everything seems grounded in whatever makes Regina Spektor special.  It’s a bit sad to see her eschewing some of the crassness and bluntness that really makes Soviet Kitsch a stand-out album.  But having not kept great tabs on her career, I can’t say for sure when she stopped writing songs about the bitches in her life and stepping in gum.

All that being said, this may be a great way to introduce your friends to Regina Spektor–it highlights all of the things her fans love about her without getting too off-kilter, which may turn some listeners off.  I definitely recommend this album, but if I get to choose which Regina Spektor we listen to at breakfast I’m still sticking to Begin to Hope.  ‘Cause, you know, nostalgia.