Review: Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel…

Artist: Fiona Apple

Album: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Over the course of twelve years, Fiona Apple has released four albums.  This would be laughable if they were poor, pandering to the hipster crowd fare, but they’re not; they’re deep and intelligent outings that offer great rewards for those that care to listen.  This, of course, makes the wait for a new album especially excruciating.  Released seven years after her last album, 2005’s Extraordinary Machine, The Idler Wheel is by far her most artistic and difficult album.  Eschewing much of the jazz and alternative piano pop found on her other releases, on The Idler Wheel Apple mostly sticks to expertly produced soundscapes of percussion cut with her usual piano.  Even when things get a tad more traditional, like on the soon-to-be-classic “Valentine,” there still isn’t a single hook or radio-friendly moment to be had.  Which isn’t to say that independent and satellite radio stations won’t eat this up.

If all you know of Apple is her scantly clad video for “Criminal” from 1999’s When the Pawn, there will be precious littler material for you here.  The Idler Wheel finds Apple at her emotional extremes, especially on “Regret,” which features some tortured yelling and the line: “To soak up the hot piss that comes from your mouth every time you address me.”  Yikes.  Later, on possibly the most romantic and menacing song on the album, “Hot Knife,” Apple compares her relationship with a man to butter: “If I’m butter/Then he’s a hot knife.”  It’s a cute, yet oddly unsettling metaphor.  In fact, unsettling is one of many ways that The Idler Wheel can be described. But all of the best albums usually are in one way or another.



Check out the nightmarish video for lead single “Every Single Night” below


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June 2012
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