For Regina Spektor, Remember Us to Life is something a little bit different, and yet all too familiar. While she’s been known to record songs written years before they appear on an album, and regularly performs unheard songs live, Remember Us to Life contains an entirely new selection of songs, never before heard and written during and since her pregnancy in 2014. Her musical stylings haven’t changed, though, meaning we still get the same Spektor experience we’ve come to expect.
Going from the lead singles, you might be expecting something a little different from the album. Bleeding Heart was heavy on synths rather than piano, with the latter appearing in bursts but often falling behind or mixing with electronics and percussion. Small Bill$ was stranger still, with a heavy percussive beat and violin flourishes underlining lyrics about artists and the struggles associated with money. Piano very much plays a part in them, but at a reduced level.
For those worried about these proceedings, the rest of the album should come as a relief. A majority of the album still relies on her piano arrangements, sometimes throwing strings and percussion like on Black and White but often going back to the lone string and piano pairing as she does with The Trapper and the Furrier, Tornadoland, The Light and numerous others. Her trademark world building and storytelling finds its return as well, heard in part on Small Bill$ but truly coming to life in Sellers of Flowers, which often swells as a hopeful burst of strings appears, only to embrace the reality of things with her lyrics—But no one lives long enough to see the outcome, to know any answers, to know what the point is, to know if the winter ever came closer than on that night when I walked with my father.
While Regina’s experimenting with vocal cadences takes a back seat this time around, the anti-folk stylings are very much alive and well, and Regina continues to offer that same slightly twisted charm that everyone’s come to love and expect from her music, even more so than she did on the more experimental What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. If the lead singles had you worried, fear not, because Regina Spektor more than lives up to the hype on Remember Us to Life.