June 15, 2006

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Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope
Sire, 2006

East Village anti-folk Russian ex-pat Regina Spektor calls out Cat Power for a bare knuckle brawl for the crown of kookiest dame in the indie scene with her fourth full length release Begin to Hope.

And the queen of kooky she is, in that endearing way that only confident just out of reach style girls can pull off. Spektor does piano pop balladry that folds in equal parts jazzy Fiona Apple and Bjork-ish whimsy to create thoroughly charming songs. The production on Begin to Hope is far more slick than her prior releases, and while that often tolls the death knell for intimate artists, here it knows to leave well enough alone. Childlike intonations poke in and out amongst the purposefully “New Yawk” over-accenting and impromptu Russian verses. While Hope... is devoid of her punkier bursts (like “Your Honor” off Soviet Kitsch) it is not a piano only affair. There’s a bit of Liz Phair-guitar to “Better” some synth orchestra for “On the Radio” and low-fi techno provides back beat to the cuter tracks like “Hotel Song” and “That Time.”

There is a wonderful artist to be found here, but newcomers to Spektor’s work will need to swallow their haughtiness about how they think emotional, innocent and zen of the moment songs should sound. Returning fans will just be glad to hear the continued growth of one of their favorites. A-

— Glenn Given


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