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Regina Spektor’s Soviet Kitsch

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Despite her youth, Regina Spektor sings like she’s seen the world and isn’t that impressed. Her first album, Soviet Kitsch, pulls together strands of French chanson, Berlin cabaret, edgy rock and operatic vocal turns closer to Queen than Pavarotti.

Spektor sometimes sings English like a foreign language, stretching vowels beyond recognition and riffing on awkward consonants. Her piano follows the rolling rhythms of the short stories she tells, building in intensity before falling back. It’s a style closer to the rhythms of speech than the steady four-four march of rock music. In “Poor Little Rich Boy,” Spektor sneeringly tells the tale, while playing piano with the right hand and beating a rhythm with a drumstick in her left, of a socialite dealing with loneliness. With a buzzing string section behind her, in “Us” Spektor recalls two lovers great enough to deserve a statue in their honor. She knows, though, that such glory leads to recriminations and a nasty fall from grace. “Your Honor,” with buzzy guitars and screaming vocals, proves that Spektor could become a rock singer if she wanted.

The odd sound, unlike anything I’ve heard before, grows on me with each listen. It reminds me of the first time I heard Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. Spektor’s songs enter my head when I least expect it, and I want to grab the CD and hear her strange voice. Soviet Kitsch is an impressive debut for the young song writer.

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About Todd A. Price

  • Bella

    Wow! Research central. This isn’t her first album. Check out her website http://www.reginaspektor.com for more info.

  • Perhaps I should have said first major label release. She record an album call “11:11” while in college at SUNY Purchase and made 1,000 copies of it. When she began performing in NYC, she recorded a second disk called “SONGS,” which she produced in batches of 200 and sold at gigs and through http://www.CDBaby.com.

    It does raise the question of what counts as a first album when almost anyone can produce a professional quality recording and make CD copies. A few years ago, I remember bands recording tapes and distributing them at gigs. I don’t think anyone would call those their debuts.

    I’m going to stick with what I wrote. It’s hard to call the the earlier releases her debut when there was no marketing or distribution. I guess it could be argued that the internet has changed everything, but I don’t think we’re quite at that point.

    Thanks for being a jerk about it, though. That’s always greatly appreciated.

  • Michael Sullivan

    An impressive attempt at justification for a lack of research that only slightly diminished what is an otherwise eloquent and almost worthwhile review.

  • Neonswans

    You guys are idiots. Who cares? Enjoy the music.