Album seeks remembrance

SPEKTOR EXPLORES a varaiety of themes in her seventh album, among them fragility and capitalism.

Released on September 30, Regina Spektor’s new album Remember Us To Life has caught critical attention for its careful and eccentric take on modern pop music. While Spektor is widely known for her indie hits “Samson” and “Fidelity,” this new album serves as her first release since “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats” in 2011. Within the 11 songs on Remember Us To Life, Spektor manages to explore themes in the realm of corporate America and hookup culture with an acute eye and almost painfully well-constructed songwriting. Rolling Stone Magazine described the release as “a balancing act of the familiar and far-out,” and credits Spektor for her originality after nearly 20 years in the music industry.

Remember Us To Life begins with the spirited, upbeat anthem “Bleeding Heart.” In this first song, Spektor begins by encouraging her listeners to abandon their insecurities, only to acknowledge her own over the course of the bridge. Through this dichotomy, the artist manages to make the piece almost dangerously intimate; she expresses not only her desire to be stronger than the demands of everyone else, but also directly acknowledges the chinks in her armor. “Bleeding Heart” enters the album into the sort of light-hearted honesty that has made Spektor’s previous albums so popular.

Later in the album, Spektor’s “Grand Hotel” is a more polite, kindhearted piano ballad that contains the narrative of an ornate hotel with a portal to hell in the basement. Within the story, the demons in the hotel make their way into the lives and bedrooms of the patrons of the hotel. In many ways, Spektor juxtaposes the sexually-charged actions inside the hotel with the somber lullaby of her piano, and uses the duality of the song to acknowledge the poetry of the fiery, lustful hookup culture that takes place within her narrative. “Grand Hotel” serves as Spektor’s romanticized interpretation of hookup culture; people embracing the dangerous sides in the hallowed halls of an elegant hotel.

Arguably the most political song on the album, within “The Trapper and The Furrier” Spektor consciously writes about the system of American capitalism in which “those who don’t have lose, those who got get given.” Within “The Trapper and the Furrier,” Spektor doesn’t skirt around her problems with a market that enables the rich to profit from the poor. She forms the piece into a battle of the haves and have-nots: “the good are damned, and the wicked forgiven.” As a backdrop to her pointed commentary, Spektor writes a somber, blues-y piano track that points the listener in the direction of a grim dystopia.

As her seventh studio album, Spektor manages to keep her eye keen and her writing precise in Remember Us To Life. Spektor creates her music with a sense of relatability and careful introspection; in turn, the songs she creates allow her to reimagine things her listeners already know. The album integrates itself well into Spektor’s line of charming, intimate, critical, and self-aware albums that have formed her 20-year career. In the end, Remember Us To Life evokes the same sound and character that we have come to expect of Regina Spektor.