Still waiting for that new Fiona Apple album? It’s been finished since early 2003, but apparently her record label Epic has shelved it for its lack of commercial tracks. What does this mean for fans? It means we will have to wait even longer for the proper follow-up to 1999’s When the Pawn… Thanks to a few DJs, tracks from Extraordinary Machine have leaked across the Web.
While the tracks sound a bit rough and the record is not nearly as polished as her previous, you can still hear Apple’s trademark snarl. This time she’s taken a sonic risk by modifying her typical piano-driven songs to include organs and eerie sound effects.
The main problem with holding the release is that Apple has never been a radio-friendly artist. In the case of When the Pawn…, none of the three singles received heavy airplay, but the album managed to find its way into the hands of more than a million consumers. There are many who want nothing more than a smart, artistic record rather than the fluff and vanity of mainstream music. The public is yearning for acts that dare to go against the grain and don’t insult their intelligence by throwing in the terms “bling-bling” or “yeeeaaahh.” Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse and Jack Johnson have scored big hits without having to cater to radio programmers obsessed with the likes of Usher and Britney Spears.
Apple’s fans have taken measures into their own hands by forming an online petition for the release of Extraordinary Machine, which has already been signed by more than 30,000 people. Even a select few DJs have started playing “Not About Love,” “Better Version of Me” and “Get Him Back.” The entire record doesn’t match the brilliance of When the Pawn… but serves as a midway point between it and Tidal.
With the attention the record has attracted from music insiders and fans, Epic would be smart to rush release the album with “Not About Love” as its first single. The track is reminiscent of Apple’s previous two records, with a slow start that explodes with emotion. Toward the end Apple pines, “This is not about love / ‘Cause I am not in love / In fact I can’t stop falling out / I miss that stupid ache.” Apple stretches her sound to its limits with tracks such as “Waltz,” “Used to Love Him” and “Window.”
Extraordinary Machine‘s best song is “Please Please Please,” a Beatles-esque track that is incredibly sweet, honest and brutal all at once.
Maybe Epic should spend less time withholding good records and produce one less Jessica Simpson, Ashlee Simpson or whatever other pop tart out there they think would revitalize the music industry. Admittedly, I downloaded Extraordinary Machine, but why wait for some stupid record exec to finally decide whether to release it? Fans have waited patiently for five years, and when the album eventually hits shelves I’ll be one of the first in line. But enough time has passed with no action on the part of the record label. Sorry, but we want it now.