What We Saw from the Cheap Seats - SIRE
FILTER Grade: 81%
By Clare R. Lopez on May 31, 2012
As far as singer-songwriters go, Regina Spektor is a bit of a character. She is unafraid to be herself and when you sit down with her albums, you can hear it. Consequently, her catalog is filled with flecks of endearingly offbeat details. It might be a whispered conversation between songs, rapping over just a couple of notes (“Consequence of Sounds,” from 2002’s Songs), awkwardly blunt lyrics like, “Hey remember that time / When I found a human tooth down on Delancey” (“That Time,” from 2006’s Begin to Hope), or her best impression of a singing dolphin (“Folding Chair,” from 2009’s Far). Yet this same candidness also yields moments of genuine honesty. When she says, “This is how it works / You’re young until you’re not / You love until you don’t / You try until you can’t,” there is a chance that you’ve been there, too, and find a little of yourself in her songs.
From her stripped-down earlier work to her most recent material’s penchant for pop, it has been Spektor’s consistent personal touch that has drawn people to her music. What We Saw from the Cheap Seats sees her continue to march to the harmonies of her own piano. But much like Begin to Hope and Far, this record generally continues to juggle the same genres Spektor has inhabited up to this point. So it doesn’t feel as off-the-cuff and loses some of the novel immediacy that usually makes her quirks and candor shine. This is not to say that there aren’t tracks that take another path. While “All the Rowboats” dives head-first into electronic waters her songs have yet to explore, Spektor completely drops her signature piano for a breezy acoustic guitar on “Jessica”—one of the album’s most striking tracks. And no matter where your seats are, it’s still the show you came for.