While Fiona Apple certainly isn’t a new name to most listeners — her professional music career kicked off sixteen years ago with her critically-acclaimed debut Tidal — her latest album, to be released tomorrow, demands that old fans and new listeners alike give the 34-year-old songstress some fresh consideration. Titled (in typical overwrought Fiona fashion) The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do, the album brings together jazz, pop, musical theatre, and good ol’ fashioned lyrical craziness into a work that transcends the sum of its parts, showing an artist at the top of her game. NPR eloquently explains the sonic and emotional experience of The Idler Wheel…:
The feelings Apple takes on in her deliberately maddening, eventually addictive new songs are those that inch us along, filling up most of our lives: icky little feelings like petty jealousy, self-doubt, bored loneliness and shamed regret. This is the stuff we’d rather tamp down. Apple wraps her fingers around it and makes it unavoidable.
The woman who sighs and yells and moans and twists her voice into unattractive shapes on The Idler Wheel is one who, by conventional standards, thinks and feels too much. She’s the kind whom others want to shut up, but she keeps resurfacing — in the poems of Sylvia Plath, the stories of Lorrie Moore, the films of Lynn Shelton and Miranda July… Apple goes where those literary types go, obsessively focusing on everything that’s not a Kodak memory.
Check out the truly bizarre and gorgeous video for the first single “Every Single Night,” as well as the plaintive “Valentine” and crazy-sexy-cool “Hot Knife” — then, head over to NPR and listen to The Idler Wheel… in its entirety. What do you think, folks? Is this the soundtrack to your post-Pride hangover?