The title of Fiona Apple’s latest is impossibly long, for convenience sake we’re just going to call it The Idler Wheel. Her previous releases dabbled with musical eclecticism (no doubt thanks to producers the likes of Jon Brion), so it’s a tad startling to listen to The Idler Wheel and realise how Spartan she’s gotten with the production now. Not that the bombast’s disappeared, just reined in much like Feist’s latest last year.
There’s still a reigning percussion signature that permeates the entirety of the record in the homemade percussions of truck stomps and even pillow, if the credits were to be believed. The sparser sound is complemented by the feel of the album that might not be so immediate from just listening to it, but by looking at the supplements – the cover art, the album name, the lyrics, the squid on Fiona’s head in the video to single ‘Every Single Night’ – you might surmise something of it.
Take the line off opener ‘Every Single Night’ in which she declares she just wants to feel everything, there’s a kind of insular loneliness to her mind; a neurotic messed up place to be. The clattering percussions also immerse us into her psyche best on ‘Left Alone’ as it begins the track in a way that reminded us of an angry child throwing a tantrum because they want to be, well, left alone. There’s endearment to her neuroses though, as fictional manic pixie dream girls are wont to be.
Vocally Fiona Apple is something else too, as the aforementioned track would surely prove to anyone – going from opera to rap-like cadence like postmodernism in music had peaked ages ago. It’s early to declare what her best album is, yet The Idler Wheel could already take the spot easily, it’s Fiona at her most distilled.
LISTEN TO: ‘Werewolf’, ‘Every Single Night’, ‘Periphery’, ‘Hot Knife’
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