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Archive for the ‘Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…’ Category

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, oh crap this is so long! Maybe I should just call this album – The Idler Wheel…

Fiona Apple’s new album, which I will just call The Idler Wheel… to be simple, is getting rave reviews, from what I have read and noticed, in the press lately.  This much is certain, it’s a very impressive and grandiose fourth work by the NYC singer/songwriter, but I’m not so sure its ambition catapults it in to some of the best albums of the year.

I can appreciate what Apple is trying to do, and I would expect nothing less from her than a bombastic, jazz piano stomping, thunder-clap of an album, but the album’s ambition is also what makes it unravel at times.

Fiona is responsible for easily one of the strongest debuts by a solo female artist ever in Tidal, made at the ripe old age of 19.  She’s had a strong career ever since, and has been catapulted into indie-do-no-wrong-darling status.  So it’s no doubt The Idler Wheel… will be the source of much debate and analysis amongst music aficionados at hipster PBR parties, but its complexity doesn’t really make the majority of the songs good or listenable for that matter.  It just makes it harder to enjoy.

The majority of the songs operate in a time signature that I’d have to call my friends who went to Berkley to decipher. .  Left Alone and Periphery are two of the songs that make me want to bash my head against a wall and make it all stop.  Pounding piano riffs, over concrete scrapping sound effects, and beat poet lyrics.  They are The Idler Wheel.. at it’s worst, but that doesn’t mean the album is without merit.

Songs such as Valentine and Regret, on which a typewriter scrawls out every stroke, show a more focused plan of attack from Apple.  Then there are songs like Hot Knife and the opening track Every Single Night that sound like they belong in a different time and place, when the Charleston was still a happening dance.  That ability to transport is what she’s best at, and that’s the best part of the album.

Every song is laden with a sound effect of some sort though, bottles clicking, shoes tapping and scrapping.  It becomes tedious after a while, and sometimes I just want to be able to listen to some music, without giving myself a migraine.  All of these songs crave attention to detail and need more than multiple listens in order to sink in.  I can’t say that two months from now I give this another listen and see something special in it that I didn’t realize was there.  I think another similar artist has released an album that is far superior this year, and she’s essentially done a better job doing it; Regina Spektor’s, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats.  

The Idler Wheel… is an ambitious work that’s for sure, and I think Apple strikes gold at times, but at other times she borders on crazy and pretentious.  That’s the fine line of the album, and that’s why overall I think it just barely misses it’s mark.

Grade: B-