For an artist whose work remains largely indefinable by the music world —her albums have been classified in every genre from pop to anti-folk— Spektor seems very aware of her goals for her own music. Since her breakthrough albums Soviet Kitsch and Begin to Hope, Spektor’s haunting melodies and unique lyrics have preserved a signature style that makes her songs recognizably hers.
Her newest single holds the same promise as her former releases. “All the Rowboats” features Spektor’s usual piano and distinctive vocalizing but also has a techno intro and an up-tempo, 80s drum beat, which throws Spektor’s folksy tunes into the realm of the electronic.
But despite these new elements, Spektor’s lyrics continue to revolve around transforming the everyday into the fantastical. Just as she drew parallels between a biblical character and a cancer patient in “Samson” and discussed human fears through an animal metaphor in “Two Birds,” Spektor pairs the unexpected with the expected.
“All the rowboats in the oil paintings, they keep trying to row away, row away,” sings Spektor as she describes a narrator who pities artwork trapped in frames in a museum. Her lyrics remain as intriguing as ever and do a consistent job of telling an unusual narrative, making the song fun to listen to on multiple layers.
True, bits of the single call to mind the grim lyrical tonalities of “Machine” and “Genius Next Door,” yet “All the Rowboats” doesn’t sound like a repetition of former hit songs. Instead, the track gives fans a bit of typical Regina while also indicating some of the growth we can expect on her new album.
And Regina does seem to be branching out. Her latest endeavor, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, is produced by Mike Elizondo who also worked with Eminem and Dr. Dre—hip-hip artists whose abrasive sounds are a far cry from Spektor’s laid-back melodies. Still, it is important to remember that Elizondo also worked with Spektor on her 2009 album Far and teaming up with her again should not alter her sound drastically. It should, however, serve to push her to expand her already solidified techniques.
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats is set for a May release.