The fourth studio album by American Fiona Apple is nothing short of a stunning set of songs, making full use of the outstanding vocal talent of Apple and her ability to construct weird but brilliant chord progressions. Spanning across various genres such as alternative rock, jazz and baroque pop, the songs are at times musically and vocally flawless. Seven years since her last outing, the time seems to have been well spent, creating this raw, frank, passionate and direct set of songs that is maybe not so accessible and easy-listening but all the more rewarding for it.
Opener “Every Single Night” is an album highlight, with an almost tribal chorus hook, and showcasing her song writing talents from the beginning (“these ideas of mine percolate the mind”) as she says plainly, “I just wanna feel everything”. The rather subtle “Valentine” is also a highlight, with an odd stuttering chord progression that really only she could make work. “Left Alone” is vocally and lyrically captivating, speaking of her closure from feelings for others, “I don’t cry when I’m sad anymore… How can I ask anyone to love me, when all I do is beg to be left alone?”
The album’s best track is “Werewolf”, a flawlessly pretty ballad with simple meanings (“we can still support each other, all we got to do is avoid each other”) before the earnest truth and standout album lyric, “Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key”. “Periphery” narrates her simple disdain for a former flame, “You let me down, I don’t even like you anymore at all”, before a signature weird-but-wonderful breakdown post-chorus. Album standout and closer “Hot Knife” is a complex and intricate track, layering multiple vocals to a gentle drum in the background, creating the most interesting track on the record.
This isn’t a pretty record, it’s challenging, raw, brutal and undeniably compelling. At times romantic, but largely filled with rage against the concept of relationships, The Idler Wheel… gets as close to the writer’s personal feelings as song writing can get. Arguably the tightest and most cohesive record of the year, it truly is a showcase of artistry in modern music and will not disappoint any willing listener.
Top Songs – Every Single Night, Werewolf, Hot Knife