Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. May 24, 2012
    Her best effort yet.
  2. May 29, 2012
    There's not a weak track on the record, and there's something arresting in each song.
  3. Jun 19, 2012
    The songs on WWSFTC all hint at loss, limitation and aging, with Spektor's poetic sensibility and passionate singing giving the LP a wrenching sense of vulnerability. [No.88 p.59]
  4. Many of these songs are merely bemused, and when she revises "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good," all she achieves is a different singalong from the one you expected.
  5. Jul 18, 2012
    Spektor delivers everything with such guileless brio that you never notice the join [between troubadour style to chrome-clean hip hop].
  6. May 29, 2012
    What We Saw from the Cheap Seats succeeds more often than it frustrates.
  7. 80
    It might be coming from the cheap seats, but for the most part, this is classy stuff.
  8. May 29, 2012
    At her best, Spektor tempers her theatrics with a deep-seated empathy. Beneath the yelps, gasps, and exaggerated accents, she's a romantic, and What We Saw is her most deeply felt, resonant work to date.
  9. May 24, 2012
    She probably remains a bit of an acquired taste for some, but What We Saw From The Cheap Seats pulls off the impressive trick of stylistically bouncing about all over the place while retaining a very identifiable vision all of its own.
  10. May 29, 2012
    Beyond her playing, Spektor holds together the music on Cheap Seats with her singing, which even at its most intricately melodic (as in "Oh Marcello") retains an improvisatory feel.
  11. 75
    Spektor still lets her theater-kid id run free, with affected accents ("Oh Marcello") and self-conscious heavy-breathing tricks ("Open").
  12. May 31, 2012
    Much like Begin to Hope and Far, this record generally continues to juggle the same genres Spektor has inhabited up to this point.
  13. Jul 2, 2012
    [Cheap Seats] will please the masses by doing what she does best. That is, have fun, play games, and make beautiful music.
  14. 70
    What We Saw From The Cheap Seats could've been Spektor's magnum opus, but the flashes of brilliance here are enough to keep us hoping for her next release.
  15. May 29, 2012
    Even tighter and more flamboyant than 2009's Far, [What We Saw From the Cheap Seats] may be her best.
  16. May 24, 2012
    At times, Spektor can be too cutesy... More often though, her little idiosyncrasies are charming.
  17. May 30, 2012
    Though it rarely makes good on the promise of her earlier songs, Cheap Seats is polarizing, and by now most listeners will have already decided whether or not they can stomach Spektor's peculiar kind of verite, glass-half-full optimism.
  18. Jul 9, 2012
    There is much here to be thankful for, but there is nothing as immediately thrilling as some of her past pop gems. [Jun 2012, p.150]
  19. Jun 28, 2012
    It's the near-painful purity she conveys in the high notes that surprises most, especially on the mellower tunes.
  20. Jun 7, 2012
    At its most affecting What We Saw from the Cheap Seats is a sad and touching record, filled with love and the memory of .... Parts of [the album] feel either disposable or a revisiting of old ground.
  21. May 31, 2012
    Unfortunately, What We Saw is heavy on overlong ballads, and when she adds that trademark whimsy to the mix, it's nearly unbearable.
  22. May 29, 2012
    She's still a pop maverick worth cherishing, but you wish she'd tone down the quirkiness just a little.
  23. What We Saw..., then, is the usual Spektorish mixed bag of literate genius and "look at me" showboating.
  24. 60
    Here, the abrupt shifts between ballad placidity and animated angst underscore the theme of changing course.
  25. May 25, 2012
    Parts of ...Cheap Seats feel either disposable or a revisiting of old ground.
  26. May 24, 2012
    In fine voice and piano, Spektor skips down the yellow-brick road, offering new diversions at every turn. Fun – but the whimsy can be exhausting.
  27. May 30, 2012
    Most of the songs are so flat that the singer sounds constrained.
  28. Oct 12, 2012
    The occasional glimmer of pop genius seen in the albums past is mostly absent, with plodding piano ballads in place instead. [Jul 2012, p.112]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 61 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Aug 19, 2012
    Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love Regina Spektor. She is an amazing artist who I found one day and who I have been obsessed with ever since. I delved deeper into her older albums and found simply amazing music, pure and not clouded with unnecessary bells and whistles.

    I love the songs on this album, but they all seem like filler songs. Not to mention 3 or 4 of these songs have already been on youtube for years, they're just redone with special sound effects. I had been looking forward to this album for years and it just fell short. The lyrics do seem much more shallow than they were in Far, Soviet Kitsch, and ESPECIALLY Begin to Hope. Some of them just didn't seem like Spektor at all! How isn't original at all, something I would never expect from my favorite musician. I hope she makes another album, but I also hope it's more spektor-tastic! I still have so much ReSpekt for her though :) She's still amazing! The album just sadly fell short :(
    Full Review »
  2. May 29, 2012
    Really interesting new album. A bit darker than last album. Great melodies, quirky voice that is totally infectious. Hard not to like her after hearing several tracks. A real story teller. Full Review »
  3. May 29, 2012
    Regina Spektor is one of those artists hardly anyone likes at first. Like liquor. She's a lyrically puzzling, piano thumping storytelling with vocal arrangements as dramatic as a theater major... but also much like liquor, once you really get into the music, it becomes an uncontrollable addiction. What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is like a delicious fruity drink with deadly amounts of mixed vodkas and gins. It will knock you on your ass when you're done with it. It's definitely Spektor's most down-to-Earth, calm album yet, with productions quality at an all-time high, but her identity as a humbly strange anti-folk legend remains.

    Spektor seems to be more aware of herself and her talents on this album, using more accents ("Oh Marcello"), beat boxing ("All The Rowboats") and hand-and-feet instrumentation ("Small Town Moon") than seen on any of her previous albums. She even steps out from behind the piano to play the trumpet in "The Party," with only her mouth and no trumpet of course.

    Before the album is even halfway over she gives us one of her most beautifully depressing ballads in years with "Firewood," which rivals Begin to Hope track "Samson" both musically and vocally. A couple tracks later and again she ups the ante with "How," a song about heartbreak so jarring that it could make even Duffy or Adele seem as cheerful as Ke$ha. Still, Spektor isn't all about depressing hidden meanings and quirky, cutesy air instruments. She has, over the years, been uncovering a more pop side of herself that seems to shine on each album like "Folding Chair" from Far or "Better" from Begin to Hope. This album offers up "The Party" which compares a swain to a lively parade that leaves you messily frazzled and smiling. "Ballad of a Politician" is the most nostalgic record, reminiscent of tracks like "Chemo Limo" that chronicle corruption, a favorite topic of mine. It's hard to put Spektor is to one category or another. Her music bounces from between different genres and themes. She's an explorer. An acquired taste, yes, but she definitely knows exactly who she is and what she wants her music to sound like. Now that she has a bigger budget and production team behind her, moreso than her first 5 albums, she can bring that huge imagination out of her head and into our ears.
    Full Review »