Forget the annual Grammy hoopla and Academy Awards acclaim. How could such honors ever deign to compete with the Regina Spektor-appointed title bestowed on one Carl Prejektorinski in her song “Human of the Year”? Effusive praise, sure, but then again, there’s very little on the anti-folk piano priestess’ fifth album (and first since 2006 breakthrough Begin to Hope) that’s meant to be subdued.
Where precursors Hope and Soviet Kitsch treaded more balanced, even darker ground, the only thing heavy about Far is the thick layer of production slathered on courtesy of four co-producers, including Hope’s David Kahne. That studio sheen doesn’t prevent Spektor from lyrically exploring 1984- and Matrix-like futures in “Human” and the skittering, soaring “Machine,” or once again touching on religious themes in the subdued-by-comparison “Blue Lips” and “Laughing With.”
Day-to-day micro-narratives are, for her, far more interesting aspects of the human condition, with the giddily off-kilter, domestic-bliss bounce of opener “The Calculation” and clap-happy “Folding Chair” serving as par for the course. Sparse, herky-jerky modern-mating ritual “Dance Anthem of the 80s” sets a similar scene in Hipsterville, USA, while the detail-drenched “Wallet” channels the happily-ever-after through a moment’s daydream. If only somewhere in Spektor’s ever-sunny, careening field of vision she could find some measure of gravitational pull, the contrasting highs might not seem so impossibly out of reach.