If you’re like me, then you probably know Regina Spektor from the (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack. Even after listening to a good amount of her material spanning her entire six album career, those two songs are still my favorites. Call it her “mainstream hits”, call it a great movie, I don’t know. Those are the ones that have stuck. Writing some great songs with 2004’s Soviet Kitsch and 2006’s Begin to Hope, akin to the era of (500) Days, Regina went piano-pop-rock on 2009’s Far.
It wasn’t a bad record by any means, just a commercial departure from her more “indie” material. If Regina was anything, it wasn’t “mainstream” music. 2012’s What We Saw From the Cheap Seats brought Regina back to the days of Soviet Kitsch and Begin to Hope, trying to reach her new mainstream audience with her classic sound, but after writing the theme song for the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black and releasing the first single/opener “Bleeding Heart,” it looked like we were heading towards Far 2.
“Bleeding Heart” kicks off Remember Us to Life very abruptly. The actually insanely catchy chorus is full of arpeggiating synths and begins a clearly digital recording strategy minded record. Far 2, as I said above, or Further, as someone else joked, feels very Ingrid Michaelson as much as it does Coldplay’s turn from Viva La Vida to Mylo Xyloto–though Regina doesn’t sound like she’s at “Paradise” just yet. Tracks like “Grand Hotel,” “The Light,” “Obsolete,” and most of the latter half of the record still feel like they could have been just more highly compressed synth-infused takes from Far, the classic sounding yet mainstream version of Regina Spektor.
The most interesting track is definitely “Small Bill$,” the M.I.A.-styled radio-ready “did we just hear Regina Spektor in the club?” sounding trip of a song. It’s by no means M.I.A. in the context of AIM, but it’s by far no means Regina Spektor. However, the record does hold every message a Regina album is supposed to have: let’s feel things and tell heartwarmingly sad stories over piano melodies. It might not be the usual sounding Regina Spektor on every track, but it’s nice to see an artist still experimenting with their sound seven albums down the line.