Review Summary: A delectable collection of songs from Fiona Apple that you don't know whether to unwrap or diagnose
One way to write, record, and produce successful albums is to have a certain mindset when following an artistic direction. This mindset really could be anything, whether it be from a narrative perspective (La Dispute's Wildlife off the top of my head) or through the eyes of a character (Nine Inch Nail's The Downward Spiral). I have found that Fiona Apple's approach for the Idler Wheel is more or less centered around three specific elements; Self-reflection, melody and motive, and environment.
The first of the three elements that create The Idler Wheel is Apple's psyche analysis of herself. One reason I found this album to be so enjoyable is that you get to peer into what makes Fiona tick. The first track, "Every Single Night" is basically her confessions to a psychiatrist. Listen to the song and it's easy to visualize you, the listener, taking close notes of the flaws that cause her discomfort and pain. "These ideas of mine Percolate the mind, Trickle down the spine, Swarm the belly, swelling to a blaze". Her major flaw that she confesses is that her ideas get the best of her and her brain can't help but THINK. Another time where Apple confesses a major flaw is in the track "Left Alone". "How can I ask anyone to love me when all I do is beg to be left alone". Fiona seeks love and attention, but at the same time she wants independence.
The next element that serves as a central focus on the Idler Wheel is the general construct of the music itself and how melodies layer over each other and compliment each other in many ways. Let's go back to the first track for example, I like to dissect this track a lot because it differs from all the other tracks in that it really has no foundation. The song travels through the spontaneity that eludes Fiona's mouth, piano, and very subtle percussion. But yet, every other song on the album typically has a strong, rhythmic foundation. Another song that is very interesting musically is "Werewolf" when the last lyrics of the song are "Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key", which is repeated four times in a MAJOR key, but the very last chord hit on the track is tonic in a MINOR key. Just something i found very interesting.
Finally the last element that I found to be most evident in the Idler Wheel is the environment that each track creates. This was really the main thing that kept me so interested in this album. Each track delves into its own little world and draws you in with it. Take the track "Daredevil", which I found to be very claustrophobic and almost suffocating at points. Then directly after comes "Valentine" which is a huge sigh of relief because of how lucid, free, and empowering the track is. Then the next track after that is "Jonathan" (probably my least favorite track) which imitates the tendencies of a fine tune'd machine, contradictory to the first track "Every Single Night" which really doesn't follow any strict order at all. And finally, the last song "Hot Knife" seems to finish the album where it started, in Fiona Apple's head, considering all the different vocal parts could be interpreted as the voices inside of it.
All in all, i found this album to be very entertaining and it didn't seem half-baked at all. It was a completed thing and I felt like nothing more needed to be further developed. Ofcourse, like all albums I have my complaints, like how I thought the songs in general could be mixed a little better to definitely tell what the piano chords were (sometimes it was a little unclear and cloudy). And I just don't really like the track "Jonathan", it was definitely one of the weaker tracks on the album. But other than that I loved it. It was a fun trip through the winding mind of Fiona Apple, with very well constructed (and some even catchy) songs along the way.