Time Out says
Thanks to the ascent of ladies such as Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles and Christina Perri, the female quirk-pop field is a lot more crowded now than it was when Regina Spektor broke through with “Fidelity,” the oft-licensed semihit from her 2006 album, Begin to Hope. Yet one needn’t proceed too deeply into Spektor’s latest before remembering what an idiosyncratic talent she remains: On What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, this New York City songstress continues to examine the vagaries of life, love and art with an eye for the calm-disturbing detail. “First there’s lights out, then there’s lockup,” she sings on the disc’s spooky lead single, “All the Rowboats,” which continues, “Masterpieces serving maximum sentences.” To whom else would it even occur to write a tune about a museum’s lonely inhabitants?
Spektor made Cheap Seats with producer Mike Elizondo, who also helmed a handful of cuts on 2009’s Far; he brings a kind of sublimated funk to songs like “Small Town Moon,” in which a creeping bassline underpins the singer’s observation that “today we’re younger than we’re ever gonna be.” That said, don’t be surprised if she jettisons some of the album’s precision in favor of a rawer attack tonight: Last May Spektor played a string of Southern arena dates opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.—Mikael Wood