Regina Spektor has been bringing her brand of alt-pop to the masses for over a decade, but many don’t know it because she didn’t really break into the realm of commercial success until 2006 with her smash hit “Fidelity” from her album Begin To Hope. Both that album and its 2009 successor Far (QRO review) were full of catchy piano songs that kept listeners interested. With the arrival of her newest album What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, her creativity and knack for evolution, sadly, are coming into question. The reason is that it is more of the same, only this time there aren’t any songs nearly as catchy as past hits such as “Better” or “Laughing With”.
Regina, at this point, we get it. You can play the piano really well and your quirky bohemian vocals that include explosion noises on songs like “All the Rowboats” or creepy gasps on “Open” have been cool in the past, but aren’t cool enough to be done over and over without expecting people to get tired of you at some point. In fact, it’s getting downright annoying. Now, if you aspired to be the next lead singer for Disturbed then these continued tactics might make more sense.
So what exactly is it we saw from the cheap seats? Exactly what you would see from the front row, a Regina Spektor that is no doubt talented but is struggling to stay fresh and relevant. The title is undoubtedly a social commentary, but we owe Spektor thanks because she is also letting us know that if the world is a stage then we don’t need to shell out the amount of money it would take to buy a front row seat to her career. There’s definitely something to be said for knowing what you’re good at, but a complete lack of evolution or exploration can’t be overlooked when you’re an artist. Considering that, the cheap seats or even no seats at all will be enough from here on out.