An alumnus of New York City's slow-burning anti-folk scene, singer/songwriter Regina Spektor recorded her last album,
, with Strokes producer Gordon Raphael, and managed to score a coveted opening slot on the band's 2003 American tour. For her new LP, Begin to Hope
, Spektor recreates The Strokes' itchy hooks without sacrificing the high-brow finesse of her classical training; Begin to Hope
is as elegant as it is addictive. Born and raised in Russia, Spektor relocated to the Bronx when she was just nine years old, and her prickly pop songs are still dashed with all the quirky, category-defiling flips so inherent to immigrant culture—rickety bridges between customs (and sounds), thrilling new discoveries, crushing blows and big stylistic leaps. Spektor gets compared to both Björk (for her eclecticism) and Tori Amos (for her emotional accessibility), but her sharp, naked compositions are more Nellie McKay than anything else, sprinkled with New York City grit and topped with a grin.