Following the dark, theatrical Remember Us To Life, Regina Spektor seeks more widespread appeal without compromising her prodigious ability to write beautifully expressive music on the brighter Home, before and after. Mixing lighthearted moods from earlier albums with often weighty topics and dense musical ideas, Spektor lives her art, singing, “My mind is full of melodies, they search for homes inside of me.”
Most tracks contain memorable snippets of what could be stretched into pop gold, but Spektor instead weaves these phrases into intricate sonic tapestries. Involving more melodies in a single track than are contained in most contemporary albums, the songs require patience and a decent music acumen to be fully appreciated. Those looking for a second coming of Spektor’s surprise hit, “Fidelity,” won’t find it on Home, before and after—and that’s fine. It is unlikely that the pop crowd will be searching for hits on a Regina Spektor record.
At times Spektor allows her trademark nostalgic whimsy to overtake the music, and drum tracks and orchestral over-accompaniment can be distracting from what are otherwise perfect compositions, but these are small complaints. The album will be critically acclaimed, but criminally overshadowed by lesser works that lack the subtle melodic intricacies and Spektor’s gorgeous voice. Lacking a bona fide hit, the understated Home, before and after will resonate with fans, but won’t win over new audiences.