We do a lot of things with God. We sing to her, take her to parties, hang around with her on rainy days, and even toast to her memory while we call for another round.
Regina Spektor, that little Russian/Bronx tart, wonders why we never laugh at God. For good reason, she suggests that God really can be quite funny, like “at a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke.” We laugh with God, but never at God.
Spektor’s fifth record, Far, isn’t afraid to laugh at God. It isn’t afraid to laugh at a lot of things, including normal things and practical things. Regina’s laughing all the way through, in fact. Christ, she’s even making dolphin noises to rhythmically accent her point about something-or-other.
Spektor and her piano and her offbeat vocal timing and her ability to nail the shit out of notes she has no business nailing the shit out of are in top form on Far. While few can doubt her ability to impress with her wandering, scrambling lyrical sense and her precise playing, her latest record removes any doubt that we’re dealing with a top-drawer talent of epic proportions.
Think Joni for a New York anti-folk crowd.
In many ways, Far is a bridge of an album. It takes the headspace of Soviet Kitsch and packs it over to the smoothness of Begin to Hope. Somewhere along the viaduct, Spektor picked up four multiplatinum pop producers (like Dr. Dre/Eminem dude Mike Elizondo and ELO founder Jeff Lynne) and put them to work.
With so many cooks in the kitchen, one might think the results would spoil the soup. But Spektor’s firmly in control of things and the classic vocal tics and uncorked melodies remain as they should.
Whether she’s telling a story about finding a wallet (“Wallet”) or about not remembering the words to your favourite song (“Eet”), there’s something utterly magical about the way Regina reveals herself. And as she provides her very own dance beat using staccato notes and vocal prowess, Spektor gives us THE “Dance Anthem of the 80s.”
“Laughing With” reminds that “no one’s laughing at God” in heartbreaking fashion. “No one’s laughing at God when it’s gotten real late and their kid’s not back from that party yet,” she says.
We do a lot of things with God. We call her name in moments of ecstasy, play tricks on her and let her play tricks on us, call on her when we want good news, and shut her away when we’re finished.
Far reminds us that God can be funny, that finding a wallet can include a story and that being “Human of the Year” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And, all the while, Regina Spektor reminds us how beautiful, strange, and passionate a performer she is.