Regina Spektor named her first major label album Soviet Kitsch, way back in 2004, but she’s never leaned into it as heavily as she does here. Not that she needs a gimmick to differentiate herself from all of those other girls with pianos, but she’s got a cultural arsenal nobody else does. Why not imagine a metropolis of bears? It is accurate, and it gives a little edge to an otherwise very gentle satire. There’s nothing to imply that there’s anything wrong with spending all your money on chips and Coca-Cola except the tone of her voice, but it’s not what bears should be doing and all of this post-industrial materialistic excess is wrecking their otherwise vibrant lifestyle. Or something. Anyway, it obviously warms my heart a lot.
With songs like this one, Regina Spektor sometimes seems like an artist who belongs to a different time. I imagine she would have been quite at home generations ago, the singing sweetheart of 1924, say, and your great-grandmother would have been happy to tune in to her weekly radio show. Think back to a time before popular music became the domain of the young, before it became the popular musician’s job to appeal to the desires of teenagers. When music was performed by dignified, nicely dressed people for audiences that sat before them in reverence. A quieter time with more string arrangements. Of course things were worse then, but maybe people valued things of beauty a little bit more because of it. Poor Regina may just be too refined and full of poetry about roses for this world of gleaming bodies and thousand dollar logos.