Having nurtured a name for herself as a singer and songwriter of odd, slightly offbeat piano pop, Regina Spektor went and sold out, by licensing what seemed like her whole back catalogue for use in Grey's Anatomy and its ilk. Well, that's what the cynics of this world would have you believe, anyway; in reality, the Russian-American anti-folk music maiden lost none of her charm when she hit the big-time in 2006 with 'Begin to Hope'.
'Far' is the 29-year-old's first studio album since her breakthrough (her fifth overall), and it's made of similar quirks and lilting vocals based around a piano soundtrack. Spektor's girlish vocals are used most effectively when they're brought front and centre (such as on the pomp-pomp of opener 'The Calculation'), or allowed to soar sky-high (as heard on the lovely 'Human of the Year').
That same voice also brings colour to songs like the bracing 'Eet', and the gothic glam-pop of 'Machine', while the understated additional instrumentation - a glockenspiel twinkle here, a tenacious drum roll there - decorates her often skeletal arrangements.
If there's one thing that goes against 'Far', it's that Spektor seems to play up to the 'cutesy' facet of her personality slightly too often. Still, there's enough subtle dramatic moments and upbeat optimism to balance out the saccharine moments. Perhaps not the best album you'll hear all year, but definitely one worth investigation.