Album cover for What We Saw From The Cheap Seats by Regina Spektor
On the new record from Regina Spektor, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats, she reunites with hip-hop producer Mike Elizondo for a second time following his production on several of 2009’s record Far. This time, co-producing with him for a more coherent sound that allows for a better flow and a surface level of comfort that seems almost startling in the undertones. Impressive considering the album is made up of songs that have nearly all been performed or recorded prior to this record.
As a whole, the record is lyrically reluctant yet musically eager. Regina accepts, with hesitation, the inevitability of aging and moving on as presented immediately from the album’s first track Small Town Moon with the line “today we’re younger than we’re ever gonna be.” The overall theme can be summed up with the closer Jessica where Regina pleads “Jessica wake up/It’s February again/we must get older now.” This sense of defeat is at odds with the music, which is adventurous, unexpected and keeps you on your feet. The presence of some level of organized improvisation helps to break away from the expected sound on this record, leaving almost a feeling of freshness over topics that might feel stagnant yet emotionally overwhelming. While Regina sings of hesitated acceptance, she’s doing so freely at her own pace.
Regina explores other ideas and applies a menacing persona to the commonality of art galeries as prisons as she writes of art being “locked up serving maximum sentences” on All The Rowboats, the record’s most intriguing song. “All the rowboats/in oil paintings/they keep trying to/row away” adds a new sense of life to a painting that is simply a still but extrapolates with while she uses tangible example of items on display: “I pity the violins/in glass coffins/they keep coughing/they’ve forgotten/forgotten how to sing.” The feeling of defeat extends to Ballad Of A Politician, mischievously naughty in its presentation, as she perceives men with “carefully laid plans” to “shake your ass out in that street/you’re gonna make them scream someday.”
Regina Spektor presents herself feeling down but not depressed. She is neither fighting against what she sees as the inevitable nor is she doing nothing about it. Her feeling of acceptance and working in tandem with these ideas is akin to a kid shoplifting to see if he can get away with it rather than out of want or need. What We Saw From The Cheap Seats is a playfully troublesome collection of lyrics that is simply an exploration of curiosity.
1. Small Town Moon
2. Oh Marcello
3. Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
5. Patron Saint
7. All The Rowboats
8. Ballad Of A Politician
10. The Party