Regina Spektor is unpredictable. While her albums are always built on a foundation of classically-tinged piano and her own theatrical, booming voice, Spektor’s attempt to capture the unpredictability of everyday life has always veered wildly between melancholic and mawkish, adult and childish. In the past these swings have come thick and fast, and often in the middle of songs. ‘Bleeding Heart,’ the lead single from Spektor’s seventh effort, also does this, moving between swooning strings and vocals in the verses to bubblegum pop bleeps in the chorus.
However, despite first impressions, ‘Remember Us To Life’ might actually be one of Spektor’s most tonally coherent works to date, mostly because it’s almost split straight down the middle into two somewhat distinctive halves. In its first few songs, Spektor’s penchant for pop shines through, with the jauntiness of ‘Older and Taller’ sounding like it’s been taken from a Disney musical and ‘Grand Hotel’ displaying all the colourfully twee tropes of a Wes Anderson movie. ‘Small Bill$’ is a bit more experimental and edgy, with fuzzy “la la las” in place of a chorus and a dramatic combination of pounding percussion and deliberately clipped strings.
The stark, voice-only introduction of the menacing ‘The Trapper and the Furrier’ clearly signals a tonal shift, where there’s a heavier focus on classical orchestration. ‘Tornadoland’ proves to be a highlight thanks to the dramatic, squalling strings representing storms that punctuate the track. Meanwhile, ‘Obsolete’ is a little overly melodramatic, but the echoing, cavernous production that swathes the extended outro captures a sense of fading glamour. These songs are, ironically, more cinematic than anything found on her last album ‘What We Saw From The Cheap Seats,’ and that sense of drama helps make ‘Remember Us To Life’ a return to form.