Fiona Apple
When the Pawn...


4.5
superb

Review

by 15PriceN USER (2 Reviews)
December 8th, 2014 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Call me crazy! Hold me down! Make me cry! Get off now baby!"

The first time I ever heard this album was in a car. Even though the car wasn't running and I was starting to lose consciousness from the rising heat, I was unable to escape the entrancement that "When the Pawn" had put my young and formative mind into. I was initially impressed by the sheer complexity of each song on the album, with its thick layers of keyboards and percussive noises and, shortly afterwards, the lyrics grabbed me. Fiona Apple is just so sharp and quick-witted especially on songs like "Fast As You Can" where she crams in line after line of pure genius and, being an up and coming pianist at the time, I was truly impressed by her compositions and the many twist and turns of her song structures.

Fiona Apple has said herself that drums are her favorite things and that the real reason that she loves the piano is because of its percussive qualities. Basically, she just likes beating out her aggression on the keys. Her percussive playing style is really something special though, seriously. She really allowed her emotions (anger) and her spirit instrument (the keyboards), if you will, to be at one with each other which is no small feat by any means and is not a common gift among instrumentalists.

"On the Bound" is such a strong album opener and one of Apple's greatest accomplishments. Despite the simple chorus with Fiona growling "You're all I need" over and over, it is such a great and catchy chorus with some of the most genuine anger you will ever have enter your ears. This song seems to be about love, yet it is described in a way that only Fiona could put it into words. I imagine this song could've been the anthem for crazy, bipolar people with relationship issues back in the late nineties. The song eventually ends with a two-and-a-half minute musical outro which I think of as the audible lovechild of Fiona and Jon Brion.

I love that Fiona put the Urban Dictionary to use on this album, because to hear the sweet little angsty girl that wrote Tidal furiously yell profanities at the top of her lungs all the way through this album is such a treat. Known for being an exceptionally angry singer/songwriter, Apple finally learned that a nice F-bomb can really enhance her already feisty songs such as "Get Gone". But really, it shows maturation on Apple's part because she learned not to care whether people think she's smart or sophisticated. There are no signs of editing or forced lyricism like there was on Tidal. Apple could be in no better artistic shape than she was for her 1999 magnum opus. Thank god for Fiona Apple, or rather thank Maya Angelou.

Complexity is key for this kind of music. Whereas minimalism had been controlling the scene at the time of When the Pawn's release, Fiona proved that there was still a next level to minimalism. No, this music isn't the absolute most complex music of all. But if you take the lyrics, the compositions, and Fiona's crazy powerful alto and add them all together, you will have quite the finished product.


user ratings (268)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
pupucower (4)
“HOW in the world does somebody make an album like this?” no effing way! But Apple continues to ...

Jeremy Fisette (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
oltnabrick
December 8th 2014


31586 Comments


i love fiona

15PriceN
December 8th 2014


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm lesbian for her!

15PriceN
December 8th 2014


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Any comments on the writing would be awesome

ArsMoriendi
December 8th 2014


6001 Comments


When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.

Awful album title, but probably a great album. I know she has a nice voice.

"I love that Fiona put the Urban Dictionary to use on this album"

It'd be nice if you were to explain that in further detail, but otherwise it's a great review.

Pos'd.

Digging: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Mirror Man

Asdfp277
December 8th 2014


1429 Comments


"Fiona is known for being an angry white woman."

wtf is this

neg

Digging: Saiko - Informe Saiko

Supercoolguy64
December 8th 2014


2471 Comments


epic album title

Digging: Kid606 - Don't Sweat The Technics

Spare
December 8th 2014


5450 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yooooo

Digging: Forth Wanderers - Tough Love

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2014


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

how god damn good is Fiona Apple that this is my third favourite album by her?

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

Spare
December 9th 2014


5450 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is my 1st favourite

hamid95
December 9th 2014


114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I prefer The Idler Wheel... to this, tbh, but they're both fantastic.

15PriceN
December 9th 2014


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

To answer your question. She's pretty god damn good.

NorthernSkylark
December 9th 2014


4705 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fine piece of... artistic integrity

Digging: The Jesus and Mary Chain - Honey's Dead

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2014


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Extraordinary Machine is definitely my favourite of hers, and then this and The Idler Wheel are very close seconds. Tidal is great but her other three are much better.

15PriceN
December 9th 2014


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I would rank her albums: When the Pawn>Idler Wheel>Tidal>Extraordinary Machine. Idler Wheel is sometimes my top favorite though.

Ryus
December 9th 2014


5038 Comments


idler is my fav

Digging: Arnold Schoenberg - Verklrte Nacht, Op. 4

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2014


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Extraordinary Machine last? what the what? that album is perfect.

Spare
December 9th 2014


5450 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i dunno about perfect but it's probably the one i listen to the most these days

Ryus
December 9th 2014


5038 Comments


idler>when the pawn>extraordinary machine>tidal

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2014


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it has like 5 of my top like....8 Fiona tracks

opinions or whatever, I think it's essentially perfect

Spare
December 9th 2014


5450 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it has her best songs for sure but also some of her ehh ones



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