Regina Spektor, renowned for her quirky vocal stylings, narrative songs and soothing-yet-virtuosic piano melodies, recently released an auditory delight suitable for fans and music lovers alike.
The live album is a chance for listeners to appreciate Spektor’s songs and lyrics, but also to admire and discover her raw talent as a live performer.
Spektor — who was touring — made a haphazard decision to turn one of her live shows into a leviathan of an album. She chose the Hammerstein Ballroom in London as the target venue for her album and its accompanying DVD.
The new album proves strong and entertaining with 22 songs, most of which epitomize Spektor’s style and portray the idiosyncrasies of one of the oddest and most interesting musicians on the music scene.
Live in London opens with “On the Radio,” a pulverizing starting piece that embodies Spektor’s repertory: soothing and sincere piano melodies, raw singing that tells a story while lamenting something pertinent and unique singing embellishments.
Spektor accents the “o” in “On the Radio,” which works as a tantalizing ploy to elicit applause from audience members.
Spektor could not have picked a more perfect audience to play for. The enthusiasm and energy is palpable throughout the CD, especially during segues between songs.
Next is “Eet,” another one of Spektor’s well-known hits. As soon as the first piano notes are played, screams and hoorahs flood the track’s audio.
“Eet” is highlighted by the a mesh of string instruments, Spektor’s piano and background drums, creating a serene instrumental mood. The virtuosic, high-hitting range of Spektor’s voice flirts with the piano melody, and a peculiar beat-boxing conclusion adds to the unique nature of the track.
“Apres Moi” bridges the listener between two of Spektor’s other popular songs with an impenetrable piano introduction that blends appropriately with Spektor’s lyrics. The song is ominous with dark lyrics and a recurring theme of impending doom.
With spurts of French lyrics and an extensive, passionate Russian verse, coupled with natural echo effects created by Spektor repeating certain words louder and then softer, “Apres Moi” serves as the polestar of Spektor’s creative talent in the album.
It is evident that Spektor realizes the sheer exuberance of her audience as she embraces them and gives thanks before her monologue-esque “Silly Eye Color Generalizations.” Spektor’s lyrics are at points poetic and at other times humorously silly — hence the song title. “Silly Eye Color Generalizations” seems like it would be a passionate but witty poem, exemplifying Spektor’s talent as a writer.
Spektor’s choice for the set list is interesting, as she pairs antithetical songs with abrupt transitions. For example, “Ode to Divorce” is a song filled with almost-tangible emotion and remorse. Interestingly enough, it is followed by “That Time,” one of Spektor’s most humorous songs, which contains a simple, repetitive guitar riff, vocal spikes, dark humor about overdosing and a lingering lyrical feeling.
Regardless of Spektor’s song choice, the audience clearly loves the set as Spektor’s album marches on. During “Fidelity” the audience sings along, and applause layers the progressions between all of the album’s tracks.
As a whole, Live in London feels like an auditory epic because it is so long. The length, however, serves as a portfolio of Spektor’s talent.
Live in London is a successful blend of Spektor’s more experimental songs such as “Hotel Song” and “Folding Chair,” where she attempts to sing like a dolphin, and Spektor’s more traditional songs like “Us” and “Wallet.”
The singer demonstrates her lyrical talent in “Blue Lips,” “The Calculation,” “Machine” and “Man of a Thousand Faces,” songs that take the listener through interesting stories and scenarios.
The song that really stands out is “The Call” because of how it slows the momentum of the album and set. However, with “Love, You’re a Whore,” however, Spektor engages the audience in an awe-inspiring hoe-down-like finale.
“Love, You’re a Whore” is an exciting end to an album and performance that is entertaining and practically unblemished. The London crowd claps and sings along, giving Spektor generous background vocals to add to the splendor of the song.
Live in London will not fail to please Spektor fans, but will also reveal to other music lovers a talented performer who magnifies her music with creativity and idiosyncrasies that are hard to come by in today’s popular music world.