In review: Far

Artist: Regina Spektor
Album: Far
Label: Sire Records
Released: June 23, 2009
Rating: 7.0/10

Picking up where she left off three years ago, Regina Spektor has reemerged with her fifth full-length album, Far.

Promptly commanding one’s undivided attention with the bouncing beat of “The Calculation”, the album opens with a bubbly melody about love and macaroni pieces. (Let’s remember that this is the same woman who sang about reading the backs of cereal boxes and eating only tangerines on 2006’s Begin To Hope).

After a chipper introduction, the mood quickly plummets with the onset of “Eet”, and so begins a new chapter in the musical repertoire of Regina Spektor. Far is just as clever and intelligent as Begin To Hope and 2004’s Soviet Kitsch, but instead of playful relationship songs draped in charming metaphors, Spektor delivers gloomy tales of turmoil, complemented by slow, haunting piano notes that could just as easily accompany a horror film.

Without becoming too cynical, Spektor’s latest collection of songs takes on a darker hue, questioning the hypocrisy of religion in “Laughing With” and the trouble with existence on “One More Time With Feeling.”

A little on the heavy side given her generally upbeat and cheerful catalogue of music, she does make a good point on “Laughing With”, which many have likened to Joan Osborne’s 1995 hit of the same nature.

Both lyrically and in terms of musicality, Far is Spektor’s darkest album yet, with all the accoutrements in place to make it a celebrated leap in Spektor’s songwriting.

With this leap comes a little criticism from the masses, for whom the disgruntled political rants on Far would happily be exchanged for something a little more “Fidelity”-esque.

The album is not completely heated, however, as “Folding Chair” affectionately calls the apple of her eye to sit beside her on the beach. The invitation is a unique one, offered delightfully in the key of a dolphin’s squeal.

“Dance Anthem of the 80’s” is one of the album’s most danceable songs, kicking off with Spektor borderline beat boxing, easing the minds of devout fans who fear they’ve lost their cheerful Regina to the woes of the world.

Far may at times sound more downtrodden than Spektor’s previous albums, but take this as proof that Spektor speaks her mind. And sometimes barks like a dolphin.

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