The last time I even thought about Fiona Apple was when she accepted a MTV Music Award in 1997 and declared that “this world is bullshit.” I thought she was pretentious then, but, despite the better-than-thou 23-word titled album, The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Drive of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, she seems to have broken free of the stigma of being the “alternative “It girl” and loosened up in her own way.
The Idler Wheel…is brave and unabashed in its telling of a love soured. Apple has always been a better poet than singer, but her stripped-down sound allows the listener to lament relationships past, and, at certain points, I even—could it be?—related to Apple. On “Valentine,” she sings “I’m over you/I love you,” a lyric as close to a universal sentiment as anyone who’s ever been the dumpee can attest to.
Although some things have definitely changed in Apple’s music, some things have remained the same, namely her wavering vocals. In the seven years since she last released an album, her voice is unchanged, and, that sound of hers, sort of resembling someone talking on a bumpy bus or turbulent airplane, only allows me to listen for short stints. While I identified with the lyrics, I wished she’d penned them for someone else to sing.
For fans who may have missed her during her long absence or have recently gone through a bad breakup, this album just might be for them.
Pretty Swell Tunes: “Werewolf,” “Every Single Night”