Four years after her last LP, Regina Spektor returns with Remember Us To Life, an album almost bursting with clever, haunting lyrics and deceivingly sweet melodies.
While she usually compiles her albums from songs written throughout her career (depending on which ones suit the overall theme), this record consists entirely of songs written around the birth of her first baby in 2014.
This is probably why there is no overarching theme in the lyrics, except that each of the songs tells its own little story: Regina Spektor is a singer, yes, but more than that she is a story-teller who chose music as the way to express herself.
Almost all lyrics have a sombre, haunting feel to them: they deal with topics such as ageing, loss, feeling left behind, social injustice and the importance of remembering. The words she uses are powerful and full of imagery.
I particularly like Grand Hotel, which conjures up images of a place very much like Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, only that—hidden by all the splendour and glamour—there’s an entrance to hell right underneath the hotel.
Most of the songs are carried by carefully arranged piano and strings, although there are a few exceptions (most notably Small Bill$, a hip-hop inspired song with heavy percussion where Spektor tries to sound like a super-cool and ironic rapper; it is an interesting experiment and improves on listening to it several times, but it is definitely not the strongest track).
Sometimes, the arrangements are so lush and voluminous that the songs have a very theatrical, musical-like feel to them—they could have been taken straight out of a Disney movie.
While this soundscape certainly fits Spektor’s clear and enchanting voice, it feels a bit too rich, sugary and heavy for my taste at times; less opulence suits her better, like in the light-footed Older And Taller and the simple, piano-driven first part of Tornadoland.
Overall, Remember Us To Life is a more than solid pop/singer-songwriter record. Regina Spektor has a talent to create melodies and lyrics that stick in your head, and even if she sTweet