The ratio between two probability density functions is an important component of various tasks, including selection bias correction, novelty detection and classification. Recently, several estimators of this ratio have been proposed. Most of these methods fail if the sample space is high-dimensional, and hence require a dimension reduction step, the result of which can be a significant loss of information. Here we propose a simple-toimplement, fully nonparametric density ratio estimator that expands the ratio in terms of the eigenfunctions of a kernel-based operator; these functions reflect the underlying geometry of the data (e.g., submanifold structure), often leading to better estimates without an explicit dimension reduction step. We show how our general framework can be extended to address another important problem, the estimation of a likelihood function in situations where that function cannot be wellapproximated by an analytical form. One is often faced with this situation when performing statistical inference with data from the sciences, due the complexity of the data and of the processes that generated those data. We emphasize applications where using existing likelihood-free methods of inference would be challenging due to the high dimensionality of the sample space, but where our spectral series method yields a reasonable estimate of the likelihood function. We provide theoretical guarantees and illustrate the effectiveness of our proposed method with numerical experiments.