Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Album Review- Fiona Apple "The Idler Wheel"

It has been 7 years since Fiona Apple's last album "Extraordinary Machine", 16 years since her debut "Tidal", and the question on everyone's mind is will "Idler Wheel" compare to her earlier work's truthfully songwriting intimacies or will her decade and a half in the music industry take her in a new direction?

The album's cover has an extended title that serves as a theme throughout the entire album "The idler wheel is wiser than the driver of the screw and whipping cords will serve you more than ropes will ever do". Fiona sees herself as a machine in the title of her LP as well as in her lyrics. The first track "Every Single Night" is poetry of how Fiona's environment drives her; with lyrics "My heart's made of parts of all that's around me/ And that's why the devil just can't get around me" listeners are brought vicariously into the raw world of 'Here I am! This is what makes me tick.' In the second track "Daredevil" Apple shares how the gashes of her heartbreak make the flaps for her to fly as an airplane before she screams at her love to just "Look at me". By halfway through the album on the track "Left Alone" you'll yearn for the protagonist during the chorus "How can I ask anyone to love me/ When all I do is beg to be left alone", and finally come to resolution that this album isn't exactly uplifting, but is still overflowing with life.

Apple's vocals and piano are sparsly accompanied by percussion on the record, but on "Periphery" it sounds like she is daydreamingly shuffling her feet across the studio. You feel as though she's asking you to join in if you'll stay awhile. The song will end, and you'll still be shuffling your socks loudly over your carpet. The last track "Hot Knife" is my favorite off the album. Reinventing the loop pedal while wrapping up "The Idler Wheel" in a feisty and memorable way comparing two lovers to a hot knife and butter. "Hot Knife" finally leaves potential for growth after 9 tracks of 'moving on'.

"Idler Wheel" makes me feel like I've opened up a clock and gazed in wonder upon the intricate pieces working in harmony to keep the absolute of time. After 42 minutes, I notice that there is not a single excess piece, and the machine would cease to function without all 10 tracks ticking together. From the passive gears of "Valentine" and "Regret" to the energy of "Every Single Night" and "Werewolf", Fiona Apple has reinvented herself as an artist while still maintaining the same sound we all love her for. Watch her artistic video for "Every Single Night" below and buy The Idler Wheel out on Epic Records.


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