Fiona Apple blends bold sound with lyrical wit
Published: Monday, July 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2012 01:07
There’s no debating the fact that Fiona Apple is a difficult artist both in context and in life.
Over the course of her career she has angered record labels and fans alike with her antics, including the eight-year production of her third album,“Extraordinary Machine,” onstage meltdowns and public tantrums — not to mention various personal traumas.
What listeners must understand is that Apple is a complex character, both as an artist and as a human being.
That being said, Apple, who famously said she “suffer(s) for (her) sins,” in lyrics from her song “Criminal,” is an incredible musician.
Her albums, like the recent “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do,” are always well worth the wait.
Apple does not take her craft lightly and the result of this is music that borders on flawless.
With “The Idler Wheel ... ,”Apple is up to new tricks, seamlessly blending a new breed of austerity and percussion with her trademark witty vocals.
No musician — perhaps with the exception of Kanye West — does for language what Apple succeeds in accomplishing. “The Idler Wheel…” is a perfect demonstration of Apple’s linguistic mastery.
In the track “Regret,” Apple rages, “I ran out of white doves’ feathers to soak up the hot piss that comes from your mouth every time you address me.”
The anger in her voice and the acidity of the lyrics combine to create fury in its most undiluted form. The album is also largely self-reflective of Apple’s mindset, which is likely why the stripped-down sound works.
“Left Alone” is a track almost painful in its understanding of alienation, while “Every Single Night” expresses the universal human condition of wanting to do everything and be everyone in order to feel one is living a satisfying life.
“Werewolf” is the ballad of the album, but the rhythm is quickly and cleverly broken with the sounds of screaming children,the likes of which disturb the complacency of the listener and create a feeling of fear and apprehension — an insight into Apple’s very fragile mindset.
The message of “The Idler Wheel…” is about cultivating a taste for loneliness — not enjoying it, but accepting it as a common thread in the human experience. The sparseness of the album reiterates this message time and time again,the irony being that after listening to the album one feels less alone with the knowledge that there are other people, namely Apple, in the same position.