Label: Sire On Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor treads a delicate balance between her anti-folk past and her present home on Sire Records. Though the label re-released Soviet Kitsch in 2004, Begin to Hope is Spektor's first original material for Sire, and it feels more like a major-label debut than Soviet Kitsch ever did. The album's big, glossy production and preponderance of drum machines and keyboards inches Spektor closer to a more conventional adult alternative singer/songwriter sound. "Après Moi," one of the album's most impressive tracks, showcases her classical piano training, her Russian heritage, and those biblical influences to ominous, paranoid effect. Leaving the more unique, quintessentially Spektor-like tracks at the end isn't so much a bait-and-switch as it is a clever way to lure in and loosen the inhibitions of new fans. The album feels like getting to really know someone: at first, it's polite and a little restrained, but then its real personality, with all of its charming idiosyncrasies, finally reveals itself.