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Begin to Hope

Regina Spektor

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Album Review

On Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor treads a delicate balance between her anti-folk past and her present home on Sire Records. Though the label re-released Soviet Kitsch in 2004, Begin to Hope is Spektor's first original material for Sire, and it feels more like a major-label debut than Soviet Kitsch ever did. The album's big, glossy production and preponderance of drum machines and keyboards inches Spektor toward territory that isn't exactly mainstream, but is closer to a more conventional adult alternative singer/songwriter sound. Her songwriting mirrors this, too: "Field Below," which finds her wishing for the countryside while living in the city, has a mellow, appealingly rambling vibe that grows from the traditional singer/songwriter roots of Joni and Carole; "Better" takes the breathy, literate, pretty side of Spektor's music and tailors it into a radio-friendly single. "On the Radio" takes it a step further and becomes a smart, funny, and sad meta-single, with lyrics like "We listened to it twice/Because the DJ was asleep" backed by poppy synths and beats. But even though Begin to Hope's first few songs might suggest otherwise, Spektor is much too freewheeling and quirky a talent to stick to the straight and narrow for the entirety. Show tunes, classic soul, the Bible, and the backs of cereal boxes are all inspirations for the album. And whether she quotes the melody from Doris Payne's "Just One Look" and pairs it with lyrics about orca whales on "Hotel Song," or begins the lovely, confessional closing track, "Summer in the City," with the line "summer in the city means cleavage," Spektor uses them in unexpected ways. She also places some truly surreal, heady tracks toward Begin to Hope's end: "Lady" is a torchy number arranged for piano, saxophone, and typewriter, while "20 Years of Snow" is buoyed along by impressionistic keyboards that twinkle and tumble like a just-shaken snow globe. "Apres Moi," one of the album's most impressive tracks, showcases her classical piano training, her Russian heritage, and those biblical influences to ominous, paranoid effect. Leaving the more unique, quintessentially Regina Spektor-esque tracks at the end of Begin to Hope isn't so much a bait-and-switch as is a clever way to lure in and loosen the inhibitions of new fans. The album feels like getting to really know someone: at first, it's polite and a little restrained, but then its real personality, with all of its charming idiosyncrasies, finally reveals itself.

Customer Reviews

Respect to Regina

Absolutely fantastic. In spite of perhaps one or two weak tracks I would say that this is the best album I have heard this year (so far). It is great to hear a female singer/songwriter who really challenges all those other female, poppy, stereotypical artists. In fact, I would say that Regina is quite unique at the moment but I am probably wrong. However, YOU won't be wrong if you went out and bought this album. The new Kate Bush?

Truly unique

This is an awesome album from someone who is named in the influences of people like Kate Nash, Lily Allen and Imogen Heap, and if you listen to their work you can hear a little bit of Regina Spektor coming through, but in reality she deserves to outshine them all. She is truly unique with her New York accent and classical piano training, managing to create a collection of songs that enrich your day. On first listen I didn't really "get it" but I would find myself humming the songs and they really do permeate the mind and eventually, given time, I fell in love with it. A brilliant album from a one-off artist

Yeeeeeah

Yeah thats cool !

Biography

Born: 19 February 1980 in Moscow, Russia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A veteran of New York's anti-folk scene, songwriter Regina Spektor makes quirky, highly eclectic, but always personal music. Born and raised in Moscow until age nine, Spektor listened to her father's bootleg tapes of Western pop and rock as a young child and also learned to play piano. She and her family moved from Russia to the Bronx, where she was immersed in American culture (at the time, hers was the first Russian family in the borough in 20 years). Eventually, Spektor and her family became part...
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Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor
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