FIONA APPLE markets crazy better than anyone we have encountered in a long time. As famous for her idiosyncrasies as she is for her music, Apple has re-emerged from her cocoon to produce a new record of pain and catharsis entitled "The Idler Wheel..." (The whole title is 23 words long). What is undeniable is Apple's talent as a singer and songwriter.
From the opening piano strokes of "Every Single Night", Apple establishes the mood of the record as one of late night lamenting of lost love and the pain that comes with it. "Daredevil" is an open letter to herself as she goes back and forth about returning to her lover who has clearly wronger her. The way Apple stops and starts the music as a shift from the verse to the chorus is a jarring effect that deepens the mood. "Valentine" opens like a funeral dirge with Apple warbling just above a whisper like a late night torch singer in a half empty piano bar. "Jonathan" is full of scratches and scrapes in the background as if the author is stuck in the street gearing up to say all the things she has kept pent up for years. The centerpiece of the record comes with the almost traditional sounding "Werewolf", which is the most pop thing on the album. "Werewolf" is the trademark Apple sound all grown up but eerily similar to NORAH JONES in sound. Lyrically, the song lays out the destruction of a relationship and how it's probably best they go their separate ways. The listener is so emotionally spent by the time the closer "Hot Knife" comes, one wonders if this is a record that can only be absorbed on occasion. "Hot Knife" is a little more upbeat than the rest of the album but even it's off kilter drum patterns and school children backing vocals can't escape the despair.
Apple is so unique that getting an album from her every five or so years is just about right. The journey is so specific to her world and her vision, that more output would spoil our view of her. We need her to go away long enough to forget just how special she is.
(mp3) Fiona Apple -- Werewolf