Sunday, September 10, 2006

Listen Up: Fidelity

Regina Spektor holds up the raw sounds of her songs and examines them, showing off little nuances you would have never thought of. In The Ghost of Corporate Future, she advises the listener to drink a lot less coffee or even lick a rock. This fascination with raw sensuality (not necessarily sexual, just living fully within your senses) makes her musical escapades so fun to listen to. She takes a musical phrase or syllable and repeats it, putting different emphasis on the tones or forming the words with different accents. This kind of noise experimentation seems more suited for late night coffee houses and art classes, but Regina Spektor merges this experimentation with pop music. Catchy, fun, accessible pop music.

In her songs, she works in such oddities as clicking noises in the back of her throat or the rhythmic beating of a stick on concrete, but still the result is pure pop. Each of her songs begs a degree of scrutiny, and each one merits a mini essay.

I chose to write about Fidelity for a number of superficial reasons – it happens to be the first song on her new album, Begin to Hope. It is also one of the better examples of Ms. Spektor’s brand of experimental music/radio playable pop, and, finally, it has a music video I happen to like.

The song begins with the words “Shake it up,” and then crisp, staccato strings and a thumping bass line that invoke both classical music and hip hop. When Ms. Spektor’s voice begins, she sounds delicate and thin with the words, “I’ve never loved nobody fully, but then quickly disturbs this image with an accented, accented pronunciation of the word “ground.” If the opening beats don’t hook the ears, this vocal trick certainly will.

She quickly begins to draw parallels between insanity, being in love, and the creative process as a whole, leading up with the lines:

I hear in my mind all of these voices.

I hear in my mind all of these words.

I hear in my mind all of this music.

And it breaks my heart.

At this point the song reaches the rich, sensual world of Regina Spektor, as she repeats the “breaks my heart” line repeatedly, but never in the same way twice. The word “heart” can be anywhere from one to fourteen syllables. The accent can be vaguely Eastern European or vaguely Brooklyn. The song, having hooked you at the beginning, takes you on a journey through the sheer joy of making joyful noises.

The song performs a similar sonic experiment moments later, this time with the word, “better.” Are the “t” noises hard or soft? Is the ‘e’ noise at the beginning in the top of the mouth or the back of the throat? Is the emphasis on the first syllable or the second? The answer is always yes yes and yes. The power of music can be anything and everything.

The song concludes with Ms. Spektor rocking back and forth on the meter, letting you know that not only does “it BREAK my heart” but that “it breaks my HEART.” Yes, a heart is broken, but now we can all share in the joy that was trapped inside it.

Regina Spektor homepage (view the video here, listen to the music here, too)

Regina Spektor MySpace page (listen to Fidelity and other music here)

Fidelity – iTunes

Begin to Hope –

Begin to Hope – iTunes

1 comment:

Sasha said...

Nice post, easy reading.

Sasha, born in 1978, in Moscow. Left Russia at 1991. Don't sell albums on amazon.