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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, perky and perfect
This is the third studio album from a woman varyingly described as eclectic, eccentric, energetic and enigmatic. Alliterative descriptions aside, this album is one of the most purely enjoyable and listenable CDs I have bought in a long time. Spektor is a classically trained pianist, and as a woman singer songwriter inevitably attracts comparisons with Tori Amos. Its not a...
Published on 30 Nov. 2006 by I. Curry

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Music, Awful Recording
I love the songwriting of Regina Spektor. I love her lyrics and the way she sings them, I love the way she plays the piano. In short, in terms of songwriting and musical content, this album is stellar, and an easy five stars.

However, I never listen to it, because I just can't. The quality of the recording is very very poor indeed, to the extent that vocals...
Published on 3 July 2009 by YellowSphere


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, perky and perfect, 30 Nov. 2006
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
This is the third studio album from a woman varyingly described as eclectic, eccentric, energetic and enigmatic. Alliterative descriptions aside, this album is one of the most purely enjoyable and listenable CDs I have bought in a long time. Spektor is a classically trained pianist, and as a woman singer songwriter inevitably attracts comparisons with Tori Amos. Its not a bad comparison - but Spektor is a feistier, happier and bouncier musician than her better known comparator.

The music is a combination of gloriously catchy, poppy songs with loopy lyrics and gripping chorus lines, and the more delicate, heart-stirring songs that seem to come directly from and to the soul. That leaves another set of songs which are derived from Spektor's wide and varied imagination, complex, twisting and haunting melodies which weave fairy tales of varying degrees of darkness and intensity.

This is one of the first albums of the year that I have listened to in a state of joy and sheer exuberant pleasure. Each track is enjoyable, and there are more than a handful which are simply great. From the happy, clappable Fidelity to the stirring, childlike delight of Samson and the repeated delights of On The Radio.

Not only does Spektor utilise a range of instruments, notably focusing on her ability on the piano, but her voice is quirky and interesting. At once New York, and then surprising with a Russian accent.

For a CD that has been labelled "anti-folk" this is both off-beat and gloriously listenable. It is the perfect way to enjoy something that is different, surprising, intelligent, daring but that doesn't stray into the mainstream.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 9 July 2006
By 
Mr. T. S. Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
Regina's latest release has come under fire from some of her hardcore fans for being more "mainstream" than her earlier releases. Although the charge is true, in the case of Regina I feel inclined to say that this is in fact a good thing.

In her earlier work, Regina utilised only her voice and her piano, and created some stunning albeit spectacularly strange music. In this current work she has experimented more with other instrumentation, and the outcome is more radio-friendly than anything she has previously released. However, this is not the sound of an artist compromised; Regina sounds confident and at ease with the material. What some would call selling out, I would call artistic growth.

I thoroughly recommend this album, and if you enjoy it then I'd consider purchasing "Soviet Kitsch" next, as out of all her other CDs it is probably the closest in sound to this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, perky and perfect, 30 Nov. 2006
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Begin to Hope [Special Edition] (Audio CD)
This is the third studio album from a woman varyingly described as eclectic, eccentric, energetic and enigmatic. Alliterative descriptions aside, this album is one of the most purely enjoyable and listenable CDs I have bought in a long time. Spektor is a classically trained pianist, and as a woman singer songwriter inevitably attracts comparisons with Tori Amos. Its not a bad comparison - but Spektor is a feistier, happier and bouncier musician than her better known comparator.

The music is a combination of gloriously catchy, poppy songs with loopy lyrics and gripping chorus lines, and the more delicate, heart-stirring songs that seem to come directly from and to the soul. That leaves another set of songs which are derived from Spektor's wide and varied imagination, complex, twisting and haunting melodies which weave fairy tales of varying degrees of darkness and intensity.

This is one of the first albums of the year that I have listened to in a state of joy and sheer exuberant pleasure. Each track is enjoyable, and there are more than a handful which are simply great. From the happy, clappable Fidelity to the stirring, childlike delight of Samson and the repeated delights of On The Radio.

Not only does Spektor utilise a range of instruments, notably focusing on her ability on the piano, but her voice is quirky and interesting. At once New York, and then surprising with a Russian accent.

For a CD that has been labelled "anti-folk" this is both off-beat and gloriously listenable. It is the perfect way to enjoy something that is different, surprising, intelligent, daring but that doesn't stray into the mainstream.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 10 April 2007
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
I have all of Regina Spektor's albums and as a pianist myself I love her music.

I like the more poppy/indie sound that she has in this album, it comes across as alot more mainstream and is alot more easy- listening than her previous albums.

I have become completely addicted to this album and have not only listened to it non-stop but my friend made me a book of the sheet music for my birthday and I have been playing it also.

As I said above, this album is alot more well rounded and flows easier than previous albums however I feel that it is Regina's orginal style, lyrics and piano accompaniment that make her such a wonderful artist to listen to.

On conclusion, although slightly different and possibly a more developed sound than her previous music.... still a BEAUTIFUL album and definately worth buying. If you are anything like me you will fall in love with it and question the meaning of your life without it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant & Unique, 11 Mar. 2007
By 
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
Actually got to know her on one of the journals and staightly fell in love with her music and amazing voice. This cd has been played for million times in my itunes as many times as in my head.

I would love to mention some tracks like "Samson" in the first place, "Fidelity" for sure and "Better".

When you hear her voice once you will understand precisely whether you love it or hate it. Very brilliant but for a specific taste and minds ^^
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Respekt!, 8 July 2006
This review is from: Begin to Hope [Special Edition] (Audio CD)
A star in the making. Grab her now before she's a household name.

Her songs are beautiful and strike a chord. She's eccentric, funny, and her voice will melt your worries away....Regina, I salute you.

Keep it comin'....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 15 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
I absolutely love this album and it just gets better and better ever time you play it. 'Apres Moi' is my favouite track, just put the volume up super loud, close your eyes and enjoy!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quirky Mind Of The Soviet Beauty., 31 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
While owning Soviet Kitsch and Mary Ann Meets The Gravediggers, i was happy to hear Regina releasing her fourth real studio album (Mary Ann...is a compilation). 'Begin To Hope' is just one of those albums you can't help to love it it's so unique.

1.Fidelity - One of the best songs shes ever recorded most people love the upbeat,jumpy piano loop she sings about her trying to protect herself from heartbreak by absorbing herself in music, but she falls in love and has her heart broken anyway.I think in the second verse, in addition to wanting to protect herself from heartbreak, she finds herself also regretting her decision to let him in and she contemplates if it had been better to live within the imagination of the songs rather than the real life experiences she had with the guy. Such a good song with loads of character the video was excellent and she looke fantastic.It's a shame the single didn't do better but the album is a real slowburner and has sold 1.2 Million copies worldwide so far. 10/10

2.Better - A much more rockier song than the last she sings about, life just correcting the mistakes, instead of making a positive contribution, you risk nothing happening at all. In a pile of everything, if you don't stand out, you'll be picked over. The guitar and the drums towards the end are fantastic you can't help but to tap your foot to it. 10/10

3.Samson - This song is on 'Mary Ann..' too but this is a reworking from her album 'Songs'. A very sweet song and possibly her most beloved songs. I think this song really is about Regina finding a man who was willing to be weak and open to her. After all, Samson knew all his strength came from his hair. The image of him loving a woman so much that he let her cut his hair is powerful because he would be so vulnerable a very sweet song i prefer this version opposed the one on 'Songs'. 10/10

4.On The Radio - A fantastic, sweet quirky song I think it's talking about how you have to be able to love yourself before you can love anyone and anyone can love you. You need to be able to value things about yourself in order for other people to do the same. I just love this one alot the video was so sweet i think this is the second single. 10/10

5.Field Below - The song is much more darker than the rest and another one of my favourites. Absolutely love this song. Beautiful chord progression.
My take on this song is that the city is a cold and lonely place and she's wishing she could be back in a simpler place. She misses her love and wants to look down out of her window and see him. It's hard to get out of bed in the morning and face a world with such darkness and pain. Now i said to myself that i wouldn't compare her to anyone else but this song just reminds me of Fiona Apple's album 'Tidal' one of the best songs on the album. 10/10

6.Hotel Song - So cute! even though the subject matter isn't so cute it is written from the perspective of a hooker, and it sounds like she fell for one of his customers, but she knows that that's unrealistic and she's scared that they can never have a relationship. It's a pretty good song i like it alot everytime i listen to it i find something i never noticed before great song! 10/10

7.Apres Moi - I wasnt too keen on this one i felt it goes on for too long. This was written from the perspective of a statue. I think it's about King Louis XV. He was the one who famously said "Apres moi le deluge" which means "after me come the floods." He was hated by the French people and his reign seeded the resentment towards the monarchy that eventually led to the French Revolution (i did my research hehe) 7/10

8.20 Years Of Snow - I think that shes just talking about the image of a pure person. "20 years of clean" and the hole song she talks about not hating. the end of the song is fun it's where she kind of goes into the transition of adult hood and of course being a woman she will be approached by the disturbing men in a bar.Love it personally its pretty cool 9/10

9.That Time - One of my favourites a song where Regina is reminiscing with someone as alot of people do, the on-going guitar is fun with a hard edge to it. The end she shocks you with an overdose. Just to show how, in retorspect, the silly things we do can actualy be quiet detrimental. 10/10

10.Edit - Me and a friend had a conversation about this song (we usually pick apart songs, how geeky hehe). Alot of the album has an abunance of drug references, Basically, I think it is about writing, but Regina has incorporated these drug references also there is reference to The Beatles as i was informed by a friend (I've yet to explore The Beatles!) that the character Dr Robert was imfamous for supplying celebrities with drugs. Great song but you'll be surprised how very few words there are to this song which makes it even more magical! 10/10

11.Lady - This song is so beautifully sad, A tribute to the late and utterly amazing Billie Holiday, as soon as i heard the song i knew it was about her (she has an album called "Lady Sings The Blues"). Also, if you have listened to Billie Holiday before, you can tell that Regina tries to imitate Billie's voice on certain parts of the song, which comes off very flattering i love Ms. Holiday and i'm sure if she was alive today she would be proud of our Regina. 10/10

12.Summer In The City - I'm near positive this song is from a male's perspective. Now living in one of the most eccletic and sometimes beautiful cities in the world London, this song i can relate to, when the sun is shining everyone barely wears anything at all this song is about what a the guy in question experienced in the summer, the guy is so lonely that he goes to a protest to be physical but at the same time the lust factor can not register because he's so heartbroken because he misses the person he is with, great way to end the album 10/10

Top 5

1.Fidelity
2.That Time
3.Lady
4.Field Below
5.Samson

I predict that she is gonna be a bigger singer than she already is on the concert circuit, and shes also selling a good amount of CD's which is great shes a one of the best singer songwriters since Tori,Fiona and Joni. Buy the album and her back catalogue while your at it too, shes amazing!.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Music, Awful Recording, 3 July 2009
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
I love the songwriting of Regina Spektor. I love her lyrics and the way she sings them, I love the way she plays the piano. In short, in terms of songwriting and musical content, this album is stellar, and an easy five stars.

However, I never listen to it, because I just can't. The quality of the recording is very very poor indeed, to the extent that vocals overload the mix, drown out other things whilst distorting themselves. It always sounds incredibly loud, even on things which should be subtle, such as the pizzicato string sound on Fidelity.

I stress that this is not something that's going to bother the vast majority of people who are interested in the record, as shown by the generally excellent reviews. However, if the quality of the listening experience is important to you, you'll be massively disappointed in this album. If you've got a decent hi fi, it'll sound like it's become one of those guady plasticy mini-systems they sell in Argos.

Because this is an album of amazing songs that I can't bear to actually listen to, I can only rate this three stars. A big disappointment for me, and something that I hope "Far" (which I have not yet heard) will correct.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique talent, 8 April 2007
By 
This review is from: Begin To Hope (Audio CD)
In the opening song "Fidelty", Regina sings:

"I got lost in the sounds
I hear in my mind all these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind all this music
And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart"

While it would be pushing it too far to say that this can be seen as a metaphor for her new album Begin to Hope, it does serve as a neat way of describing the change in approach between this and its predecessor Soviet Kitsch. This album, produced by David Kahne (who has also recently produced The Strokes' First Impressions of Earth), has a much more full-bodied and polished sound to it, but, in achieving this, has also toned down the unconventional and creative nature of the artist, as it ventures from the indie fringe into the realms of adult rock.

"Fidelity", though, could prove the breakthrough hit for Regina, especially if it is ever used on the soundtrack to some popular romantic movie. It is a conventional, yet catchy song about letting go and falling in love, with some signature rolling around of syllables and word-repetition.

After a modest offering in "Better" (with Nick Valensi of The Strokes guesting on guitar), the album's third track, "Samson" is a re-recording taken from the self-released Songs album, but now also one of the best songs on "Begin to Hope". It takes the Herculean Old Testament figure of Samson and imagines that he fails to destroy the Philistines' temple and instead returns to live with Delilah, enfeebled, forgotten by history, yet in a tender and loving relationship now that he is no longer superhuman. It is a poignant, delicate song and beautifully performed by Regina.

A key aspect of the album is that being in love and being lonely sit side-by-side throughout, as exemplified by "On the Radio", where Regina firstly describes life in nihilistic Beckettian terms (i.e. giving birth astride of a grave) with the following lyrics:

"This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath"

However, no sooner has she put forward this proposition, though, when Regina counters it herself by saying that life is for living and that it is love which makes it all worthwhile:

"No, this is how it works
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
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again"

"Field Below" is a song about loneliness that is also indicative of the new styles that Regina is experimenting with here. Indeed, this track would not be out of place on a Cat Power album with its aching vocals, pained sentiment, and solo piano accompaniment, save for the fact that no one in popular music has the piano fingering technique of Regina.

The best song on the album is "Apres Moi", which is a throwback to Regina's earlier work. This time the central character sees itself as the last obstacle before total devastation. The tone is sombre, with heavy piano beats and a twisted re-telling of the Beatitudes:

"Be afraid of the lame
They'll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old
They'll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold
They'll inherit your blood"

The song then switches between French and Russian, citing lines from a poem by Boris Pasternak. The changes of cultural reference, pitch, and tempo make this a melting pot of a song, over which Regina maintains control in her own inimitable way. Be sure to hear it.

Other songs worth listening to are "That Time" (a song of cascading fun memories that suddenly come to a crashing halt), the blues song "Lady", and the beautifully sung "In the City" with the novel line "summer in the city / means cleavage cleavage cleavage".

Summing up, there is much to admire and enjoy on this album. Regina's voice will tear at you, her piano playing is fantastic, and the songs both play on your emotions and engage you intellectually. Its weakness is that none of the songs have the soaring majesty of "Us", the terrible beauty of "Chemo Limo", or the gushing lyrics of "The Ghost of Corporate Future". In short, this album appears to play it too safely compared to what she is capable of. Regina's music is the antithesis of bubblegum pop and, while it is the perennial battle between art and making a living, Regina has the talents to be one of the truly special popular musicians of this generation. Perhaps, though, it is as she sings on "Hotel Song" - "I have dreams of orca whales and owls / But I wake up in fear". Fear not.
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Begin to Hope [Special Edition]
Begin to Hope [Special Edition] by Regina Spektor (Audio CD - 2006)
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