Fiona Apple's brutal honesty can be summed up in one lyric: "Every single night's a fight with my brain." She keeps howling this on "Every Single Night," the introductory song to The Idler Wheel.. (there's more to that album title, but I'm not attempting to type that all out).
Because she possesses this honesty and because she is able to express the borderline insanity that we all feel within ourselves, Apple is probably one of the most universally-relatable musicians of our time, music genres be damned. Rappers love her. Jazz enthusiasts love her. Even the teenage girls working at your local ice cream shop blasting Ke$ha are secretly jamming out to "Fast as You Can" in their cars. Apple has been MIA for SEVEN years. One day she posts on her website that she's making an album, and the music news sites go mad. Who else in the music industry really has this same ability to cause such a stir? Not a lot of people.
"Every Single Night" is stripped down and unmerciful. It starts off really slow, with her voice as demure as can be, and ends with her on the verge of belting out what she's been trying to say throughout the song: "I just want to feel everything."
"Daredevil," "Valentine," and "Jonathan" come next with soul, passion, and pure rawness. Instruments, especially on these three songs, are very minimal, but this album doesn't really have too much going on except for Apple's voice and piano. That's why, in "Werewolf," when there's a random two minute cry of kids whooshing over your speakers, you pay attention to it. "Valentine" is probably Apple's only successful attempt to a happy love song. She also pulls a Taylor Swift on "Jonathan" but—trust me—it’s done way more tactfully. It's about Jonathan Ames, creator of the HBO series Bored to Death, an ex-boyfriend. It's not necessarily a "break-up" song but more so an homage to their relationship.
She loses a little steam in the middle, which is a common occurrence with Apple, to be honest. I think she has such a specific world, that to be involved in it for an entire album can get a little exhausting for the listener. But it's worth it for the ending: "Anything We Want" and "Hot Knife." "Anything We Want" sounds the most reminiscent of Apple's previous work and is more developed with instruments and harmonies. Not to mention, it holds a pretty catchy beat throughout the song with an "I've Been Working on the Railroad" motif. "Hot Knife" is a song that will probably be what The Idler Wheel... will be remembered by. It's like the stars aligned the day Apple and her sister, Maude, went into the studio to record this. This 4-minute round will blow your mind the first time you hear it, and I'm pretty certain of that. It almost sounds like they could have done this song in one take, both Apple and her sister just seem so determined to finish, almost like a competition.
Apple is consistently good throughout her career and it's because she doesn't care about genres—musical boundaries don't consume her. My only disappointment with The Idler Wheel... is that we'll probably have to wait another seven years for her to produce another. But, like this record, it'll probably be worth the wait.
8.5 / 10
Posted Aug. 13, 2013, 11:22 p.m.
Fiona Apple and Blake Mills have announced a 12 date collaborative tour of North America this fall. Dates are included below. Apple released The Idler Wheel... last year on Epic ...
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