Regina Spektor — Home, before and after ANALYSIS & REVIEW
I’m briefly coming out of retirement to share a quick review of this album, as I believe it’s the first incredible album I’ve heard this decade. It’s the first to break 160 on my points scale since KG&LW’s “Nonagon Infinity”.
This is such a beautiful, thought-provoking, fun, bittersweet, and soul-enriching album from Regina. Her worldly wisdom and kind, intelligent soul meets a nourishing amount of artistic freedom that flexes her ability to affect you from many different musical angles. A major highlight is the blend of electronic and orchestral timbres, not just thickening the texture for texture’s sake, but creating specific environments that play on both nostalgia and the ethereal. This isn’t just stylistic eclecticism, but stylistic flexibility — Regina not only replicates important elements of past musical styles, but easily switches through them with charm and encompasses it within her own fearless musical voice. The Hollywood-esque string swells, the 1980s-esque synth tones, and the solo piano all bring me back to a warm, simpler time, like a new home.
The pernicious trope of the “suffering genius” that music lovers yearn for, and have since Beethoven, is carefully dismantled here. One should not need to clearly demonstrate their suffering to others in order to justify their art. Regina lost her father, her homeland started a terrible senseless war, and everything else that has come from living in America from 2020–2022, yet it’s her fearlessness in musical experimentation and finding catchy melodic lines that prevails. I can tell she’s having fun making music, and that in itself carries a beautiful irony that’s juxtaposed with intense emotions of love and loss. This album gives a bittersweet and nostalgic catchiness to such deep emotions.
Her harmony borrows from both mid-1800s Romanticism and 1960s-1970s rock, finding its power through both strings of chromaticism, as in the use secondary dominants and subtle switch through relative major/minor keys in “Becoming All Alone”, as well as back-and-forth two chord shuttles, like the chromatic mediant F-D chord shuttle in the refrain of “Coin”, both of which equally impressive. Regina brings it all together with her relatable soft vocal timbre that speaks to you like she’s known you forever. She’s done it before and she’s done it again, this time with wonderfully fresh timbral ideas and a pervasive light/heavy ironic dichotomy. It seems like we are witnessing a musical genius firsthand.