Fiona Apple’s first album in seven years, “The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do”, is more than just a mouthful, it’s a mind-staggering poetic rant that will overwhelm, batter, and embrace you with its raw emotional sincerity. This is not an album that you give a trivial listen to. “The Idler Wheel” demands our attention and forces us to face the ugly truths that most of us would like to forget. Taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride with jagged, lurching rhythms, jarring melodies, and a voice that drips with a mixture of self-confidence and pain, Fiona Apple’s fourth full-length album is a turbulent force to be reckoned with.
On the first listen, “The Idler Wheel” can be a bit off-putting, since Fiona Apple’s angst and personal mayhem is expressed in such an unguarded way. Working closely with Charley Drayton (drummer and co-producer), Fiona Apple kept the musical instruments to a minimum, choosing to compliment her unpredictable vocal swings with piano and drum beats. In “Every Single Night” the fight seems real as she tells us “Every single night’s/A fight with my brain”, the light tinkling music blowing up and emphasizing every word. Other odd sounds will meet your ears along the way, as well, creating odd beats with things like pebbles thrown down a garbage chute or field recordings of machines at a bottle factory.
“The Idler Wheel” is twisted, unpredictable, and dangerous. After seven years in the making, it seems that Fiona Apple has achieved an artistic expression that is raw truth in a world of liars. If all you know of Fiona Apple stems from her 1996 hit “Criminal”, this album will shock you out of your comfortable existence. Take the time to feel the music and delve into her mysterious metaphors, you may just find a piece of yourself in there.