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

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

4.5/5

2012

Unlike the six-year hiatus between When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King… and Extraordinary Machine, the seven-year wait for Fiona Apple’s fourth album wasn’t marred by significant scandal—major conflicts with a controlling label, scrapped studio sessions, bootleg Jon Brion sets, etc. Instead, she largely took the time to chip away at her music until she had something to be proud of, and with no hubbub and relatively little hype comes Apple’s fourth album The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, a record as fantastic as its title is extravagant. Pivoting away from the jaunty, circus-like atmosphere of Extraordinary Machine, The Idler Wheel is perhaps her most intimate and personal record yet. Apple takes over production duties for the first time (with the assistance of drummer Charley Drayton), and she places the emphasis squarely on her voice, the piano and drums, all of which take unexpected rhythmic and melodic turns. It’s a strange, spare album, too: There are no obvious singles here; the arrangements are often sparse with a few found sounds and overlapping tracks folded in, yet it’s not particularly impenetrable either. It does its business assuredly and without hurry, immediately hooking you in and then slowly unraveling itself upon repeated plays, like how the shock of “Left Alone”‘s off-kilter rhythms and vocal gymnastics eventually give away to the anger and sadness beneath. And while Apple’s poetic lyrics still investigate relationship struggles, her words here just as frequently suggest internal strife (“Every single night’s a fight with my brain”) as they do outward conflict (“I could liken you to a werewolf the way you left me for dead/but I admit that I provided a full moon”), eventually culminating in the humorous sexual power politics of “Hot Knife.” Moreover, at about 43 minutes, The Idler Wheel runs the same length as When The Pawn, yet arguably covers more ground than any of her previous records, hinting at some of the jazz and experimental flourishes of her earlier work while maintaining its own identity. Even so, for an album that veers off onto whatever path it chooses (and one that conceivably runs the risk of self-indulgence), there’s also remarkable cohesion: From the bruising “Regret” to the pensive love song “Jonathan” and the frustrated “Every Single Night,” there’s simply not a bad song to be found, nor one that feels out of place. The Idler Wheel is the purest distillation of Apple’s talents thus far as well as one of the best albums of 2012.

Posted on June 24, 2012, in Fiona Apple and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. For me, one of the most anticipated albums of the year

  2. I love Fiona Apple!

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