Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel...


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex Beebe USER (126 Reviews)
June 18th, 2012 | 165 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No matter how much time passes in between her albums, there's still no other female pop vocalist that does what she does.

Fiona Apple hasn't released any new material since her third album Extraordinary Machine back in 2005, and prior to that she hadn't released any new material since her second album When the Pawn… back in 1999. But even with the history of gaps, Apple's fourth album in her nearly 20 year career The Idler Wheel... once again shows that regardless of how long of a waiting period there before her albums, that the amount of waiting pays off and does not disappoint or come up short.

Fiona's music that people patiently wait so long to hear still holds up on each album and does not weaken despite the massive time periods in between simply because Fiona constructed a signature sound that defines everything about her. From all of her moods, to her feelings, and her attitudes, her music embodies her being, and because of this, the central sound slightly changes and alters on each album because Fiona grows and matures with her music. Her music is an accurate soundtrack representing everything about her at the time of her life in the recordings, and gathers the age and experience that refine her sound on the next release.

Fiona pours her honest self into each record over music that is composed to be able to morph with her, and compliment the changes she endures. Like a folk singer has his or her acoustic guitar, Fiona mainly has her piano, and she utilizes this piano to effectively produce blanket genres such as jazz and alternative rock that are flexible enough to be artistically crafted into ambitious pop, and flexible enough to be the backing tones to suit her personality and convey anything she may feel in her heart.

Fiona's relationship with listeners is a form of storytelling presented like that of folk singers. She is always in front, the music's position of power being an underlying vehicle to set the songs atmosphere as Fiona directs the main of the listener attention to her lyrics and delivery, never loosing the center spotlight. What's great about this is that Fiona never lets herself and what she's saying be swallowed and overpowered by a songs production or backing music like most female pop singers do by putting themselves on the same level as the music. Most female singers feel hindered and restrained by the guidelines the backing music is playing for them, so it's refreshing to hear somebody like Fiona Apple having dominance and control over the music, and herself a the unmistakable main priority.

This focus of herself and lack of equality between her and the music's creates songs that have the pitch of a raw session of venting and brooding, with every detail of all the anguish, or daunting sadness, or murky wallowing being brought out through her every aspect of her smokey and strongly defined voice. Fiona doesn't just randomly belt out long notes to show off talent, she twists and turns her voice to fittingly express every emotion she feels in these songs as much as possible, making every note she hits count as it should.

Fiona's music sounds like nothing else any other female pop singer is doing. It boasts a seamless fusion between jazz and alternative music through the creative and unique middle-man of a piano, all encompassed by an independent feel that feels open and spacious, yet focused and controlled. Fiona's piano is able to bring out all kinds of vibes ranging from sexuality, to lust, to depression, heartache, all frequently at the same time, and all with a performance that never plays the keys to the dramatic, it's always cool, suave and fragile.

Fiona is one of the only female pop vocalists to release an album in this modern age that is truly all about her, and not in a propped up or self-important way, but in an overwhelmingly human sense. And 'all about her' is how it should be, her music is under only her name after all. If only other female pop vocalists had this much of a natural and organic relationship of vulnerablility between their audience, while still being able to make ambitious music that deftly finds and blends the most compatible assets of genres and blends them together in original ways, and sounds as good as her voice does on top of it all.

Fiona is just herself on this album in every way, in her musical ideas, in her singing, and in her story-telling, and all creative and vocally mind-blowing while doing it. She has come back to the music scene years later and yet again proves that no other singer connects to her audience like her, no other singer is as jazzy as her, and no other singer still has this much independent imagination to back up her talent even after all of these years. All these kinds of things wrapped into one is sorely missed, and desperately needed more in pop music, and thankfully Fiona is powerful enough to have the potential to do it all single-handedly.



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user ratings (392)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
breakingthefragile
June 18th 2012


2962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Stream the entire album as a whole, or listen track by track individually here:

http://www.npr.org/2012/06/10/154422085/first-listen-fiona-apple-the-idler-wheel?ps=cprs

This is an OFFICIAL STREAM. Not a leak, so I better not get shit for this. As for the album, one of the best I've heard all this year.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012


28785 Comments


sorry, not gonna happen

breakingthefragile
June 18th 2012


2962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What's not gonna happen? Me not getting shit for posting a review before the release date ain't gonna happen? Damn it.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012


28785 Comments


im not going to stream a fucking fiona apple album bro. not now not nevaa.

breakingthefragile
June 18th 2012


2962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, you don't gotta. It's just there for anyone who wants to, but mainly for anyone looking for a cited source of an official stream.

EyesWideShut
June 18th 2012


3193 Comments


oh shit new fiona. looking foward to given this a listen. hope its more like "When The Pawn".

breakingthefragile
June 18th 2012


2962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@EyesWideShut It really is, I'd definitely put it on the same level as her best stuff. Her music is always progressing, so there's hints of Extraordinary Machine in there as well.

Chrisjon89
June 18th 2012


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent album! my favourite LP so far of 2012.

good review too.

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

academy im surprised you don't like fiona that seems like your scene

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2012


7401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've never listened to Fiona Apple but this sounds like something that I would enjoy, I'll give it a spin.

Good review too, looks surprisingly tidy with the centre alignment.

Btw is that becoming a permenant feature? Can't say I like it.

Yotimi
June 18th 2012


6548 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I remember "Criminal" from back in the 90s but haven't heard anything else by her. Maybe I should change that.

Digging: Sand Circles - Motor City

Chrisjon89
June 18th 2012


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This'll probably be the 2012 equivalent of Let England Shake in the sense that it will be great but hardly anyone on Sputnik will notice.

Tyrael
June 18th 2012


20946 Comments


I'm in love all over again

Digging: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

DoubtGin
June 18th 2012


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

great album

Tyrael
June 18th 2012


20946 Comments


No DoubtGin you're supposed to hate everything I like

that's how it works

DoubtGin
June 18th 2012


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

ok

Tyrael
June 18th 2012


20946 Comments


Lol I was being facetious

robin
Emeritus
June 18th 2012


4258 Comments


'werewolf' is fab

Chrisjon89
June 18th 2012


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I especially love certain parts of Left Alone and Anything We Want

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012


15069 Comments


best album of the past 15 years or so probably



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