A review of Fiona Apple’s album “The Idler Wheel…”

Fiona Apple might habitually wait anywhere from five to seven years between albums and tours, but she always makes it up to fans in the end. Take for example her most recent album. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, released this past summer, is Fiona’s fourth studio album. Her last album before this one was Extraordinary Machine, released in 2005.

The Idler Wheel, as it is typically called by fans, has all the best unique characteristics from her previous albums, while still managing to have a fresh sound. It’s bitter and melancholic like Tidal, angry like When The Pawn Hits… (another shortened album title. This album’s title is long enough to take up its own paragraph), and snarky like Extraordinary Machine. The single from this album, “Every Single Night,” comes with a video showing Fiona at her finest: either with an octopus on her head, or playing with snails. It’s reassuring that, though the world has changed significantly since her last album release, Fiona is still Fiona.

The majority of tracks on this album feature Fiona’s unique and characteristic piano playing. Something new on this album, however, are the choppy, syncopated beats of Fiona’s new drummer Amy Wood. Wood matches Fiona’s frantic piano pounding tit for emotional tat. The deluxe version of the album includes a bonus track called “Hot Knife,” in which Fiona even delves into the world of vocal harmony.

The Idler Wheel… is brutally honest, but what makes it so interesting and powerful is that Fiona is being brutally honest about herself, and not those who have perhaps wronged her in the past. This album gives the listener the feeling that the song lyrics could have been lifted directly from Fiona’s personal journal and not edited at all, such as in the song “Left Alone”:

Oh, when I try to love
I can love the same man in the same bed in the same city
But not in the same room, it’s a pity, but
Oh, it never bothered me before.

Everything about The Idler Wheel… justifies the seven year wait, from the album artwork to the lyrics to the music itself. Fiona Apple has poked her head out into the music scene to let everyone know that she’s back, for now. 

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2 thoughts on “A review of Fiona Apple’s album “The Idler Wheel…”

  1. Though Amy Wood toured with Fiona this year, Charley Drayton, who also co-produced The Idler Wheel with Fiona, played all the drums on the album.

  2. Fiona Apple’s newest album is definitely worth the wait. Her long periods between albums can seem torturous in the moment, but she more than makes up for it once she releases the material.
    –JW

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