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Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw & Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Yup, that’s one ridiculously long album title, and yet it’s probably the least remarkable thing about Fiona Apple’s latest album, so let’s move on.  This is another album that I didn’t really expect to get into since I’d always kind of regarded Apple as one of those half-remembered artists from the ’90s that I had little reason to care about.  But after listening to The Idler Wheel… I can see that I’d be a fool not to care, since this latest effort from Miss Apple contains some of the most beautiful, soul-baring, and undeniably affecting music I’ve heard all year.

It’s been seven years since Fiona Apple released her last album Extraordinary Machine in 2005, and from what little I’ve heard of that album, this one’s definitely a much more stripped down affair.  Most of the songs seem to contain little more than piano and some unique, almost tribal-like percussion that complements Apple’s voice.  And yet despite this approach, the songs always seem very vibrant and full of emotion, which can mostly be credited to Apple’s singing.  She’s got a voice that has this boistrous beauty to it, and yet there are moments like on “Regret”, where she goes into to this gutteral yelp that isn’t quite in key, but somehow still feels appropriate for an album that lyrically sees Apple contemplating her messy imperfections.

I’m trying to pin down exactly why this album has been working for me as well as it has, and I suppose it mostly has to do with how direct Apple is in terms of expressing her own personal turmoil.  Yet on top of that, it’s still music that I would say is very accessible because Apple has this innate knack for jazzy pop songs that are certainly artsy, but are also likely to get stuck in your head.  The line that’s been sticking with me recently has been the one from the verse of “Anything We Want” where Apple sings “Let’s pretend we’re eight years old, playing hookie / I’ll draw on the wall and you can play UFC rookie”.  It’s not profound or anything, but Apple just has this natural ability to make these smaller moments seem just as compelling as the bigger, more impassioned moments in her music.

Favorite Tracks: “Every Single Night”, “Werewolf”, “Anything We Want”

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