Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

What We Saw From The Cheap Seats is Regina Spektor’s sixth studio album, the curious collection capturing the kind of magic so characteristic of the Russian songstress.

Spektor’s diehard fans will find Cheap Seats’ familiar on some level as the album is partially comprised of live songs previously overlooked for studio projects. It’s fantastic these tracks have finally been realised as studio recordings, particularly when the result is as comprehensively wonderful as what Spektor offers here. Small Town Moon opens the album, a restless Spektor staring down a seachange. ‘How can I leave without hurting everyone that made me?’ she laments sweetly, before an exuberant breakdown ensues. Inside the first minute, there’s every indication Spektor’s arresting songwriting will colour the entire record. True to form, she steps up to the plate, Cheap Seats a touching affair.

How assumes the role of tear-jerker, Spektor pushing through separation anxiety. She maps out a nervous forecast of the future, the song stripped-back to reflect the barest vulnerability. Meanwhile, Ballad Of A Politician simmers with sinister flare, serving up an intriguing detour.

At her best, though, Spektor is much more than a songstress of potent sentimentality: she’s also capable of seriously infectious pop and continually proves it throughout Cheap Seats. It’s difficult to look past Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) as the first and foremost example, the super-saccharine earworm simply enchanting. The song sports an innocuous, child-like simplicity, pottering alongside a delectable melody. It’s the kind of happy-go-lucky ditty that will haunt you for days. Its predecessor, Oh Marcello, while more ambitious, spruiks a similar charm. The song ignites via its majestic waltz – owed in part to 60s classic Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Spektor equally graceful in a bout of vocal gymnastics.

In the context of Spektor’s past endeavours, fans and even those casually acquainted with her craft can expect, for the most part, more of the same. That’s to be forgiven, though – after all, as established, these songs are owed to different stages throughout her career. It makes sense that each song falls within the boundaries of expectation. Besides, Cheap Seats rarely rests on its laurels anyway. While its foundations are rooted in ivory, the album continually sprouts new means through which to express and ultimately complement Spektor’s fundamental strengths. It’s obvious there’s been serious consideration as to how to fit out and rejuvenate each composition, making for an entertaining project.

Cheap Seats is a triumph in so many respects, Spektor successfully showcased as the complete package in her field. If these are the sorts of songs that initially never made the cut way back when, one has to wonder what Spektor’s presently keeping under wraps. An exciting prospect indeed.