The Idler Wheel … by Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is living proof that less is truly more. In the past 18 years she has released just four albums. In today’s industry, this may not seem like enough. But these four albums are certainly enough to show just how extraordinary she is. She creates captivating music with a voice that emits emotion directly into the heart of her listeners. She is not only a lyricist but a poet, and her work is explosively honest. She has no problem pointing the finger of blame at herself. She makes herself vulnerable to the audience without appearing weak or fragile. It’s refreshing to hear an artist who writes with her whole heart instead of spewing meaningless rhymes.
In 2012, after seven long years, Apple released her most recent album, “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than the Ropes Will Ever Do” – a title to jar your brain and an album to tear you inside out. On this album Apple is as vulnerable as she’s ever been, and the music has a lot of unique sounds.
The drumming is especially experimental. On songs like “Anything We Want,” it sounds as if there are pots and pans clanging to the beat. “Periphery” has a “boots scraping across pavement” sound. These alternate forms of percussion make the album captivating. “Left Alone” features a thunderous timpani, cymbals that strike like lightning, and a lively, bouncy piano riff that swirls like a tornado. The piano completely controls the mood during the album and accentuates Apple’s emotion.
An outlier of the album is the final track, “Hot Knife.” This song surrounds you with a waterfall of voices singing as many as five parts at once. Apple said (in an interview with NPR) that the voices are hers as well as those of her sister, Maude Maggart. She describes the experience with her sister as a “soul picnic.” There is no doubt that you can feel the electric energy between them. “Hot Knife” is also a standout track because the lyrics suggest a positive love story, unlike the majority of tracks, which express resentment and anger on the subject.
Fiona Apple sets a high standard for other artists and poets. She deserves much more recognition for the phenomenal work she has produced, and her fourth album only shows a fraction of her genius.