Fiona Apple : The Idler Wheel Is Wiser...
She’s back. Once again, placing her heart firmly on her sleeve and her hands on the piano, Fiona Apple returns with an album of ten deep, whimsical, brazen and honest songs about…well, love.
For those who aren’t familiar, (and hey there could be a few as it’s been seven years), these love songs aren’t the kind you’ll find on any other female songstresses catalogue. Actually, you could say that if Feist, Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple threw a party, Fiona wouldn’t come. If she did, she’d probably smash the plates and leave.
Only Fiona could come out with lines such as “While you were watching someone else, I stared at you and cut myself.” and have it sound as good as it does on track Valentine. For those who still buy their albums physically, the booklet is a full of her handwritten lyrics filling the pages. Even without the music, these lines are a great read and prove what comes first and foremost for this songwriter.
Lead single Every Single Night is a great indication of how sparse instruments and simple arrangements can give radio listeners a breath of fresh air, and on the track Regret Fiona’s voice doesn’t hold back. A few tracks sound reminiscent of the When The Pawn… set in terms of style, however this album is definitely a step in a different direction. The use of ‘field recordings’ is great too, managing to use the sounds of shuffling feet, or trains, as percussion.
Musically, this album, her second that uses a short poem as a title, is a natural next step after her third record Extraordinary Machine. Full of heavy handed piano clunking, drums that sit somewhere between a smoky jazz bar and Tom Waits’ toolshed, and her uncanny knack to take a song somewhere you never expected make this album one for the fans.
Newcomers to her work would be best to go back and go through her discography chronologically, as the at times heavy lyrics and circus waltzes are an acquired taste. However, that said, acquired tastes are always the sweetest tastes of all.
BY CAM EWART
Best Track: Changes Every Time…
If You Like This, You'll Like These: All of FIONA APPLE’s back catalogue.
In A Word: Triumphant