The beauty of Regina Spektor is in her balance, between high and low art, classical and popular music, the profoundly poetic and the utterly mundane. This idyllic synthesis is what makes the Moscow-born Jewish singer-songwriter both as graspable as the street-savvy girl next door that parties with the Strokes and completely unattainable, a delicate diva whose finesse and presence is well beyond her years. On her third album, Begin to Hope, which was produced by Gordon Raphael (Paul McCartney, Wilco), Spektor weaves all of these diverse elements together to create a charming, cohesive whole that's anything but mere Soviet Kitsch. "Apres Moi" struts along like a burlesque act a la Dresden Dolls before slipping into a gorgeous verse with her native tongue. The white lines of "Edit" could be Thom Yorke's Black Swan, while Spektor writes herself into the story of "Samson" and Delilah ("The Bible didn't mention us, not even once"). "That Radio Song" relates the repeatability of a commercial playlist, in this case Guns N' Roses' "November Rain," to the cycle of her own life, and "That Time" rips through old memories in true punk-rock fashion. What's Russian for "perfection"?
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