7.24.2006

REGINA SPEKTOR- Begin To Hope

Regina Spektor used to actively repel any comparisons to chart-humping drama queens just by being Regina Spektor- her beautiful and clever yet na├»ve-sounding voice always running in different directions to the minimalistic music she made but fitting perfect all the same. Those days are gone. ‘Begin To Hope’ finds the Russian born New-Yorker caving in to whatever sort of pressure got to Alanis Morrisette years ago. ‘Better’ sounds like a Bon Jovi cast-off, there are Euro beats crashing into each other everywhere else and by ‘Edit’ it’s all starting to sound horribly similar. ‘Samson’ is the exception, sounding like a mainstream radio hit, a smoky backroom sing-a-long and a lonely confession all at the same time. And only ‘Fidelity’ retains the valuable majesty of before. You can mourn the quirks and out-of-this-world oddness that Spektor previously did so well but the biggest shame is the loss of her fantastic rainbow-coloured personality. Another one bites the dust.

7.17.2006

BUILT TO SPILL- You In Reverse

Built To Spill singer/guitarist/all-round main man Doug Martsch has kept the world waiting five years for another BTS record. There were fears that his band’s Neil Young and Sonic Youth inspired sound might have become too slow and too snug to still matter but apparently 15 years in the game means you know a little something about the rules.

Martsch doesn’t hold back on any count. This isn’t a rowdy record but it does move in fantastically mysterious ways. There are great expanses of looping, overlapping instrumentation that go for minutes without vocals. When the words do arrive they are tender and memorable. There is a myriad of guitar sounds and quick, challenging sets of mood swings. It all adds up to some great tunes. It might clock in at eight minutes but ‘Goin’ Against Your Mind’ sounds like the neatest of jam rock. Up against the more muscular and distorted indie riffery sits the melancholy wonder of ‘Gone’, ‘Just A Habit’ and ‘The Wait’. At times the record feels half-hearted, drifting too far into dreary dream-pop territory but the gorgeous moments of ‘Conventional Wisdom’ and ‘Liar’ reel the whole thing back in.


If you fancy finding out where Death Cab, The Shins and Arcade Fire stole all their secrets from, you could do worse than start investigating here.