Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do
Record Label: Epic
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Gentle and sweet chimes greet your ears, as the long awaited voice of Fiona Apple softly greets you. In a matter of moments, she takes you up and over into an internal battle with her desires, her dreams, her fears. She takes you in her hands and will keep you there safely until she sets you back into the world 43 minutes later.
Early on in "Valentine," Ms. Apple gains your full attention. “While you were watching someone else, I stared at you and cut myself.” This type of brutal honesty not only immediately earns the listener’s attention, but your respect. Ms. Apple has grown up considerably over the last 7 years. She knows herself, knows her limitations, and knows what she wants in life. This sense of self continues with "Jonathan," in what could be a simple night on the town, she speaks clearly of her intentions and what she wants. No sob story, no self-pity, no explanation – I know what this is, let’s not ruin it with words.
I have not been a long-time Fiona listener. Though like many adolescent boys, I remember quite vividly her rolling around a shag carpet, half naked, talking about being a bad, bad girl. Extraordinary Machine was revelatory. But in those 7 years since, it is apparent there will be no more throwing objects out of windows.
The album has a way of making you feel better about a sordid past. Like the failed relationships are meaningful in the bigger picture. The main instruments are few, but she manages to always keep it fresh. The lyrics are sharp, to the point, and Ms. Apple drops lines that have you wondering if she has been reading David Foster Wallace lately.
The production is impeccable, a cornucopia for your ears. Here is just a brief list of the instruments: truck stomper, daredevil-thighs, celeste, voice stings, bouzouki, marimba, pillow, voice of pain. I am not sure what half of the listed instruments are.
The last two songs close on a positive swing. “And the rivulets had you riveted to the places that I wanted you to kiss me when we find some time alone.” This song, "Anything We Want," had me flashing back to my first love, when we would hole ourselves in her room over the weekend, listening to music, drawing masterpieces on our bodies, learning how two people can connect. Ms. Apple paints the world anew, the world that is only yours and yours alone. Her sister joins her to sing harmony on the finale that perfectly encapsulates how far Ms. Apple has come, as well as the listener.
The record starts off as an internal battle, a depressed soul trying to break free. Nine songs later she finds what she was looking for, she finds the passion, the right chemistry, the right lover, the right place for her. She leaves you feeling good, optimistic. And that in itself is a testament to her talent and power. From songs like "Periphery," where she understands sometimes breakups leave you with one less friend to learning the concept of regret through a person, she understands the impact people can have on your life - and you can have on others. People can completely change your perspective, your direction. In the end, sometimes leaving is the best option, sometimes having a deep and thoughtful conversation is best, and always know that you are worth more than second best.