Album Review

Fiona Apple "The Idler Wheel..."

Chad W. Lutz
In only her fourth studio album released June 19, 2012, Fiona Apple shows signs of life after over a half decade since her last LP. Known simply as The Idler Wheel (and less simply as The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do), Fiona is wild, vivacious, provocative, and shines with a sinister and sultry frenzy of lyric, rhythm and melody. And when asked about the project, an ecstatic Apple will tell you: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Released on Clean Slate and Epic Records, Fiona Apple takes listeners through a grueling world of piano avant-garde and tangible and almost piercing, at times, lyrics woven into a tapestry of melodic master. The syncopation causes sheer chills as Fiona shrills, shrieks, screams, croons, and swoons. Each of the ten tracks provides a raw and real look at the musically manic woman from Manhattan. The album kicks off with its first single, Every Single Night (3:30), released May 8, 2012. Softer and more sullen than most of the tracks on The Idler Wheel… (yada yada yada-not really important), Every Single Night still packs the power and potency the rest of the album serves up in heaping helpings.

The Idler Wheel… then thrusts into Daredevil (3:28), a wildly seductive selection showcasing, once again, Fiona’s sultry allure and hypnotizing vocals, which sets the pace for the remainder of the album. Themes of regret, consciousness, relationships, love, and struggle make several appearances throughout The Idler Wheel…, especially on tracks Hot Knife (4:02), Left Alone (4:51), and the aforementioned Every Single Night. Seven years between releases usually kills a fan base, but casual listeners and fanatic lovers of Fiona Apple alike will find a refreshing return to something all-too-often missing from the modern music scene with The Idler Wheel…: talent, with the ability to entertain and provoke.

Coming in at a modest 42:39, The Idler Wheel… promises to delight and cause discourse, almost as much as Apple’s reasons for waiting nearly a decade to release her next LP. According to a Los Angeles Times interview on June 23, Fiona cited: “Folding laundry and vacuuming,” as her main hang-ups. A strained relationship with her recently estranged boyfriend, also the inspiration for the revealing and divulgate Jonathon (5:04), also played a messy role in stalling the album. Although the primary reason, she insists, was: “…housework.” In the same interview, Apple listlessly reveals, “I feel like I can die now. I’ve done the record I feel like is me.” Must be some kind of album, right?