It’s hard to know what to say about this. Spektor writes piano-led good songs that tread a line between the arty and the pop, never too whacky not to be enjoyable but never quite pure pop, neither Laurie Anderson nor Adele. She’s a solid performer and sounds like no-one else; the only question is whether this singer-songwriter package appeals to your ears. If you like it, you’ll think it’s wonderful.
It’s her seventh album since 2012’s What We Saw From the Cheap Seats — she had a child and took some time off — but you may know her from her theme to Orange Is the New Black, You’ve Got Time.
She uses the songs to tell stories, though sometimes it’s a little hard to tell what the story is, good as her lyrics are. We think she comes up with a snappy line and expands the song from that. Bleeding Heart could be about unhappy schooldays and being a wallflower but opens with the memorable line “What you got on tap/I’ll take two of that”, while Older and Taller could be about the cyclical nature of events but opens with the equally memorable: “I remembered you older and taller/But you’re younger and smaller”. Small Bill$ is about wasting your talents; it opens with “His destiny was just too big to spend/So he broke into smaller bills and change” (by the time he realises what his destiny is, he’s spent the change on weed, Coca Cola and chocolate).
Most songs seem personal but Grand Hotel imagines a tunnel to hell from the eponymous hostelry (which may or may not be Wes Craven’s Grand Budapest Hotel). The Trapper And The Furrier sees those two (and other) characters walking through paradise and imagines what a strange turn of it events it would if heaven offered them their wish of limitless pelts; heaven for the manager is endless Powerpoint and no sick days.