Posted on July 22nd, 2009 (12:20 pm) by Erika Dick

Three years after her last release, Regina Spektor is back with an incredible compilation of songs about what it means to be a person, and what it means to be alive. The tracks are beautifully and creatively crafted, achieving a magnificent balance between her past creations. The result is the rare album in which every single song is a miniature masterpiece. I now have the daunting task of trying to write about album that words cannot fully describe; but I’ll do my best. And to all reading: don’t take my word about this album, listen for yourself. You won’t regret it.

Ms Spektor opens with “The Calculation,” a pleasant, bouncing melody with quaint, yet critical lyrics - “So we made our own computer out of macaroni pieces / and it did our thinking while we lived our lives / It counted up our feelings and divided them up even / and it called that calculation perfect love / Didn't even know that love was bigger”. The song takes the charming feel-good quality of tracks from Begin to Hope and mixes in the utter honesty of Soviet Kitsch. The result is an incredibly catchy and lovely beginning to 13 spectacular songs.

The second track, “Eet,” though strangely titled, will subtly work its way into your heart, putting the wordless chorus on repeat as it courses through your veins. Spektor’s ability to create moving, soaring, pounding melodies on the piano is matched by her ability to make the words, her voice, and the music become one. This intuitive unity in her music may be her greatest musical achievement. The music is clearly part of her . . . and so it becomes part of you. Track three, “Folding Chair,” is definitely an album highlight. The song exemplifies the sheer glee that radiates from Spektor when she plays music. (Have you ever seen her live? You cannot imagine a sweeter, more joyful woman.) The song is a quaint invitation to love and bliss at the seaside — “I want nothing from you but to sweetly hold your hand.”

At this point I’m fighting the impulse to go through each and every song and rave wildly about the beautiful range of her voice, the magic in each pulsing beat, and the eloquence of the lyrics. But for the sake of time and space and to preserve the dignity of Spektor’s creations, I’ll save my ramblings for another audience and just touch upon a few other standout tracks. “Machine” is the strangest song of the album. Spektor has a way of making her voice sound just like whatever it is she is singing about; for example, her dolphin clicks and trilling “eets.” This track features electronic and mechanic movement in the background as she takes on a robotic tone, saying “I’m downloaded daily / I am part of a composite / Hooked into machine”.

“Laughing With God” and “Genius Next Door” echo the quiet reflective quality of earlier tracks, producing intensely wonderful combinations of flowing piano melodies and heart-breaking storytelling. I cannot help but be enthralled by the sincerity, honesty, and beauty of this music. “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” is my personal favorite. This song has just enough quirk, just enough cute, and just enough mystery and frankness in the lyrics. The first bars ooze with attitude that trickles down into the rest of the song. The beats bounce around from genre to genre, incorporating R&B and hip-hop vibes into a giddy pop ballad.

The album closes with “Man of a Thousand Faces.” A bit ethereal, the final track is epic in a way that belies its relatively short length. The story is captivating and elusive, the melody simple and spellbinding – “And now he sits down at a table / Without anyone's steady instruction / Begins his quiet ascension / To a place of no religion / He's found a path to her likeness / He eats a small lump of sugar / Smiles at the moon like he knows her”.

So there you have it: an inadequate description of an amazing album from an impressive and lovely musician. Each track is so brilliantly crafted, you’ll find yourself putting the entire album on repeat. Just listen, and enjoy.

1. The Calculation (3:11)
2. Eet (3:53)
3. Blue Lips (3:34)
4. Folding Chair (3:35)
5. Machine (3:55)
6. Laughing With (3:18)
7. Human of the Year (4:08)
8. Two Birds (3:19)
9. Dance Anthem of the '80's (3:43)
10. Genius Next Door (5:06)
11. Wallet (2:28)
12.One More Time With Feeling (3:59)
13. Man of a Thousand Faces (3:12)

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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