There are artists out there that continuously produce music that is so fresh and consistently good that you sometimes forget how long they’ve been around. Tegan And Sara released their first album in 1999, of Montreal in 1997, and Green Day all the way back in 1990. Besides making you feel incredibly old, I bring this up to put Regina Spektor into that group. It’s hard to believe with the way she’s always experimenting with her sound and the fact we now hear her every time we start an episode of Orange Is The New Black, but Spektor’s first album 11:11 came out a decade and a half ago. Since that 2001 release, she has continually pushed the boundaries of what we expect from singer-songwriters, and has never been afraid to bring influences from other genres into her music. With her seventh album, Remember Us To Life, Spektor further proves her extensive knowledge of music, and provides an extremely enjoyable album.
One needs to look no further than album opener and lead single, “Bleeding Heart,” to see what I mean. “Whatcha got on tap, I’ll take two of that,” Spektor begins over her piano, and it sounds like your fairly “standard” Regina Spektor track. Then we get light, bubbly synths layered over the piano. If that’s not enough, about two minutes in the hook repeats, but this time with Spektor attacking the delivery along with a drum kick that’s very punk rock, before the song finishes with a mellow piano ballad vibe—and that’s just one track out of 11. Tracks like “Older And Taller” and “The Light” have more mainstream pop sensibilities while still retaining the tenderness that Spektor does so well, and “The Trapper And The Furrier” sounds downright terrifying with its discordant, brooding piano work. There are some constants in the album, mostly Spektor’s deft ability on the piano, where she excels like very few in popular music, and her strong vocal work. While the delivery can change from warm and inviting to menacing and sulky, Spektor’s voice is without question fantastic.
The lyrical content of the album is excellent as well, with Spektor alternating between painting vivid stories and scenes for listeners and tossing wisdom left and right like it’s nothing, often at the same time. Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but when Spektor sings “‘Enjoy your youth’ sounds like a threat” on “Older And Taller,” she’s totally right. Not only is it a perfect line on its own, it encapsulates the message of the song that maybe the wisdom of age isn’t as pervasive as older generations might have us believe. The vivid imagery of greed and malice laying waste to “paradise” on the aforementioned “The Trapper And The Furrier” will give you nightmares, and when Spektor sings of her father taking her to the market to look at all the flowers in “Sellers Of Flowers,” it’s enough that you can visualize the scene, including the flowers dying as the chill of winter creeps into the world. While most of Remember Us To Life is grandiose like this (which is by no means a bad thing), there’s also the reminder that Spektor can always sit down and perform the hell out of a simple song, in this case the mournful ballad “Black And White.”
Remember Us To Life encapsulates what Regina Spektor has done best throughout her 15 years delivering us music. It’s expressive, well put together—both musically and from a production standpoint—and highlights her writing and her voice more than anything else. If the one minute opening of OITNB is all you know of Regina Spektor, Remember Us To Life is the perfect entry point into her discography for you. If you already loved Spektor, know that this album is just as great as the rest of her work.