"Begin to Hope" is Regina Spektor's most radio-friendly album so far, with perkier melodies and some decidedly catchy little songs alongside the piano anti-folk. One of the most infectious songs of that album is "On the Radio," a catchy little pop song, which is paired here with a very different song.
"This is how it works/It feels a little worse/Than when we drove our hearse/Right through that screaming crowd," Spektor croons, over a quirky piano tune laced with shimmering synth, and the jazzy drums and handclaps. This is one of the Spektor's poppiest tunes to date, but it's a memorable pop -- its rippling music and offbeat melody make it stick in your head. This is not MTV music.
She sings of sleeping DJs, attacks from "ancient bees," and songs that run over and over. Then halfway through, she switches topics to love and life in general: "You laugh until you cry/You cry until you laugh/And everyone must breathe/Until their dying breath," and then about love and relationships in particular: "You peer inside yourself/You take the things you like/And try to love the things you took/And then you take that love/you made/And stick it into some/Someone else's heart/Pumping someone else's blood..."
Having enchanted listeners with her "pop" song, Spektor then veers the other way -- "Dusseldorf," a stripped-down little antifolk song with a bit of studio polish. It trips lightly over the piano melodies, with Spektor singing about counting cookies and drunk driving in Berlin.
One of Spektor's best points has always been her quirky voice -- it's flexible enough that she can sing all sorts of songs, but it never sounds like anyone else's. There are little creaks, warbles and flat notes in her voice, which give an unpolished charm to whatever she sings. And it's nice to see that pop melodies don't detract from her oddball lyrics.
Spektor is one of the few artists to successfully "go pop" without losing her unique sound, and these two songs shows all her strong points -- she can do pop, and then turn around and do something quirky.