It's hard to describe Fiona Apple in few words. She's a strange individual, known best for her sexually awkward videos and the world's longest album title. There is no denying she is beyond unique, and distances herself in sound from any of the popular female artists out there today. She truly holds her own, and her sound is something to take in and appreciate.
Extraordinary Machine is Fiona Apple's first album in roughly six years. The album was having trouble being released due to some record label issues, hence the six year gap. But now, after the long hiatus, it is truly a treat to have her back with her most interesting, unique, and eccentric album to date. Her sound has changed, and has changed for the better. The music is now dominated by her lovely voice, inspired lyrics, strings galore, and songs driven by piano. The album has a vibe that is not easily described, and often times the songs have a circus-music, upbeat, hypnotic flair to them. Now, take that idea of sound and add hip-hop inspired beats into the layering and you have quite an Extraordinary Machine.
This album is her best work to date, and is compiled of some of her most beautiful and well put together work. It's amazing to even think that this album was almost not released for not being "pop" enough for Epic records. Songs like "Not About Love" start out with a catchy piano part then introduce those atmospheric and uplifting strings and her beautiful voice complementing it very well. Then the piano breakdown into a cabaret-esque stop and go segment, and her voice reduces to a beautiful whisper. Then the cartoon like sound of the strings re-introduce themselves once more.
"Get Him Back" has that uplifting, cabaret-like sound. Strange sounds galore, new instruments being introduced throughout. Each track a new, fun-filled journey. "Oh Sailor" provides a sound similar to some of her previous albums, and is a great leading single and has a catchy chorus reminiscent of the Fiona of old.
In fact, I can't even go into detail of all the tracks, each provides something completely different and unique. The entire album is a journey of sorts, taking you into the mind of Fiona Apple and showing off to the world what she has been wanting to do all along, but her record company was holding her back. I am very happy they finally let her realease this, because it has that special flare that I always knew she had the potential of. Though it might not be the most widely accepted album by her fans, it's her most artistic, original, and spectacular album thus far. It doesn't quite reach classic status, but in a music scene full of uninspired female voices who don't bring anything new to the table, this is a refreshing breath of fresh air. The way she implemented so many genres into one album is nice. You can feel the hip-hop vibes, the cabaret, the jazz influences, the swing, the waltz,the blues, the classic influences, and of course...those catchy pop hooks. Think Norah Jones, Alicia Keyes, Eric Clapton, The Dresden Dolls, all thrown into a blender, mutated, and then injected with the unique flare of Fiona Apple herself and then you have the sound she presents here.
She's a songwriter at her highest peak, and it has me very excited for what is to come out of her. This is her breakthrough album, and a breakout from her great but rather formulated success of the past. She has matured, set herself apart, and thrust herself towards potential critical acclaim. The future looks even brighter for this young girl. Let the beauty unfold, and watch this artist grow and catapult towards the stratosphere. This is one of the few things right for pop music in this day and age.