Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel….
June 26, 2012
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We at No Jackets are big fans of Fiona Apple, and rightly so as this is our album of the week. To be honest it’s quite an onerous task to review this particular album; not only are expectations high (we’ve only been waiting seven years) but Fiona Apple’s albums are inherently complex and consequently take awhile to fully process (just have a look at the 26 word title). Sure there are intricate piano phrases that as a child of a piano teacher even I can appreciate although I don’t profess to have any of the skill that Fiona Apple does; but what really holds this album up is the range of emotions that Fiona Apple manages to evoke whether it be through her wonderful vocal register, the raw lyrics or of course her brilliant piano playing.
My first impressions of this particular album were particular favourable; whether it be the chromatic sequences or the catchy jazz progressions that draw you there is always something that makes you want to put a specific song on repeat. It’s because you notice a fragment of a phrase which makes you go back and then you suddenly discover something else that you completely missed the first time through – that’s how complex this album is. Don’t mistake this album as one of those that pretentious critics seem to enjoy (hello pitchfork) of course musically this album has some great technical details, I have no qualms with stating that, but what really makes this album transcend above the rest is how raw Fiona Apple is to world with this album. It’s her fourth studio album and in typical fashion every intimacy imaginable is unabashedly revealed.
The first track gives some indication of this ‘every single night’s a fight with my brain’ and from there the album descends via clashing diminished and minor chords into a frenzy of emotion. The repeating chromatics provide a perfect platform for that confused emotional whirl of a dervish that Fiona’s life experiences seem to traverse across. At times she pleads for help in an aching falsetto at others she laments that ‘I stand no chance of growing up’ and at the end of ‘Periphery’ you can hear the scrapping of shoes on pavement – the arduous trudging of life. It’s a depressing album at times because it speaks at what is most precious and complicated in social interactions – love and death. You definitely feel for Fiona as you vicariously share some of the negative experiences that she has gone through, it’s not easy listening but after you’ll definitely be rewarded whether or not you’ll be prompted like me, to hit the repeat button.