In the past I have talked a lot about “quirky pop,” the sub-genre that was popularized by iPod commercials in the middle of last decade which is too weird for mass consumption but still manages to be highly assessable. I am not entirely sure who created the sub-genre, but Regina Spektor certainly perfected it. The Soviet born pianist has an eclectic delivery and sometime crams more words than you would expect into a line but still manages to deliver a beautiful song almost every time.
Now on her sixth album (and third since Fidelity became the closest thing as a smash hit for her) Regina has not changed much for What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. Mike Elizondo, who produced four songs off her last album and is best known for his work with Dr. Dre and Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, is back full time co-producing with Spektor which could explain why this album sounds a bit tighter production wise than her previous albums. But that is not necessary a bad thing like on Don’t Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas) which is an updated version of a song from her second album Songs (but sans any English in the title). Where the original is just Regina and her piano, the piano parts on the updated version is replaced by synthesizers and drums and a brass section is added. This may upset purists, but the song is much better with the makeover.
Even with the tighter production, the album still retains its fair share of quirkiness, for better or worse. The worse is on Open where Regina makes these weird and terrifying gasping sounds. But her beat boxing, scatting part of Oh Marcello works much better. I am still undecided on the loud pounding blows during first single All the Rowboats. And only Regina Spektor could tell the title character of Ballad of a Politician to “Shake what your mama gave you.” Though quirkiness if what people are drawn to Regina Spektor for, she still shows that she can write and perform more traditional and beautiful love songs like How.
Song to Download – Don't Leave Me (Ne me quitte pas)
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.