A Lullaby for Adults
Regina Spektor is an accomplished artist who is somewhat of a musical chameleon. Her new album, Remember Us to Life, is upbeat, while simultaneously carrying the weight of life’s realities. Spektor instills the album with her own life experiences, which reflect her youth as a Russian Jewish immigrant in the Bronx. From economic hardship in “Small Bill$” to childhood outcast in “Bleeding Heart,” Spektor’s background and identity shape the perspective of her latest album.
Her beautiful voice and piano entrap the listener. Although the album is quite diverse, its serious lyrics and classical sound remain static throughout its eleven songs. For example, “Obsolete” is dark, yet beautifully executed. In the song, an individual who is lost and incomplete states, “to my thoughts, to my dream / what I want, I can’t compete / obsolete.” The corresponding melody is obscure and soothing, perfectly capturing the dark tone of the lyrics.
Remember Us to Life also contains storytelling aspects. The style is comparable to that of Ingrid Michaelson, as Spektor occasionally sings and speaks her way through certain tracks (e.g. “Seller of Flowers”). However, the album’s most memorable tracks are, without question, “Small Bill$” and “Bleeding Heart.” The former hauntingly details how people can dig themselves into economic holes. Spektor’s songs are like lullabies for adults, frequently containing morals. In “Small Bill$,” Spektor attempts to convey how one might navigate a financially unstable situation: he or she can wake up and escape or merely fall deeper into debt. As she sings, “they can either wake up or go deeper / but it’s so dangerous to wake a deep sleeper / it’s like awakening a bear in winter.” The imagery here is clever, yet beautifully simple.
“Bleeding Heart” is a smidgen more upbeat, offering a lively indie sound. It opens with a slow, appeasingly electronic harmony. And throughout the course of the song, this subtle electronica periodically accelerates, making “Bleeding Heart” both danceable and fun. These dramatic tempo shifts fit the song quite suitably. Although the lyrics remain dark and depressing, describing a socially awkward individual ignoring the pain of her ‘bleeding heart,’ it still manages to feel light as a feather.
Remember Us to Life is easily a new favorite. While dark and suspenseful at times, its melodies are wonderfully memorable. Regina Spektor has made her way to the White House and into Obama’s heart; she will also make her way into yours.