Personnel: Regina Spektor (vocals, piano, percussion); Bear Spektor (spoken vocals); Oren Bloedow (guitar); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Graham Maby (bass guitar); Gordon Raphael, Alan Bezozi (percussion).
Ensemble: Kill Kenada.
Regina Spektor's major-label debut, SOVIET KITSCH, presents the singer/songwriter's unique music in all its quirkiness and glory. Spare, piano-dominated arrangements frame Spektor's wispy singing, which at times is bold and theatrical in a manner that recalls Bjork, at others shy and fragile like Chan Marshall (AKA Cat Power). Except for the ragged punk rock of "Your Honor," the album is dominated by acoustic piano, allowing Spektor's unique songs--with their blend of storytelling, lyrical association, whimsy, satire, and heartfelt confession--to shine through.
The music is sometimes willfully primitive, as on "Poor Little Rich Boy," with its sing-song melodies, tumbling lyrics, and countertop percussion. Although Spektor can verge on being cloyingly child-like, she also delivers meticulously crafted, detail-packed songs of great intensity and passion ("The Flowers") and sketches sweepingly beautiful metaphors ("Us"). Spektor effaces seriousness and self-importance with her endearing sense of humor, relishing silliness and absurdity that is nevertheless rooted in emotional truth (particularly on "Chemo Limo"). The mixture of irreverence and sincerity, of traditional songcraft and indie sensibility, is mighty appealing, making SOVIET KITSCH a debut to note.
Rolling Stone (No. 969, p.112) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[Spektor] has a winsome voice that brings to mind a more tuneful Bjork, and she plays the piano with some of Tori Amos' virtuosic intensity..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.101) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Hers is a romantic, skewy world that takes its cues from Joni Mitchell's BLUE, Rachmaninov's 2nd and the theme from Hill Street Blues."
Paste (magazine) - "Positioning her piano somewhere at the confluence of Bjork, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell, Spektor -- a 24-year-old with a powerhouse voice and profoundly imaginative arrangements -- certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of original ideas."