The foundations don't change much on Regina Spektor's sixth album: A graceful mix of classical flourishes woven within familiar pop contexts runs throughout What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, with instrumental textures adding depth to the Moscow native's vocals and piano playing. But don't tune out just yet. The opening "Small Town Moon" reveals a piano-fueled world before piercing guitar notes and a drum-line stomp throw napalm on your expectations. Spektor doesn't stop there. She borrows the chorus from "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" for "Oh Marcello," travels Adele's yearning balladry in "How," adds pounding drums to "All the Rowboats," and remains playful while skimming the dark edges in "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)." Spektor's craft lies in the layers.
— John Patrick Gatta