Regina Spektor's tricky tongue and fading Russian accent separate her from the ever-expanding crowd of Tori Amos/Fiona Apple wannabes who sport "funky" hats and own well-worn piano stools. Begin to Hope might be less histrionic than 2004's Soviet Kitsch, but it's still great fun to bear witness to this New York City songbird's post-hip-hop, piano pop, and quirky balladry. "Better" is the widest-screen song she's ever penned, a populist anthem strengthened by the steady hand of Strokes guitarist Nick Valenti. "20 Years of Snow" finds Spektor alternating unpredictably between a Björk-like mix of spoken/sung impressionism and agitated rapping to the ADD rhythms of scattered piano and sprinkled strings. The album's pick to click, "That Time," falls more into a rock vein, with gully-scraping guitars buttressing a litany of chatty reminiscences about old times good, bad, and all-out horrific, as she slurs, yelps, and riffs her lyrics.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.