Monday, June 11, 2012

Words By Fiona Apple: Why I'm Already Spinning on Her "Idler Wheel"

Like her three previous efforts, Fiona Apple's new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, lives, breathes and soars on the strength of her voice and her words. Don't be intimidated by the long-windedness of the title (if you know what an idler-wheel does, you'll get it): Apple is less impenetrable here than ever before. Over the course of 10 songs -- 42 minutes and 39 seconds -- her emotions are complicated, but her lyrics are disarmingly direct.

I'll certainly have a lot to say about The Idler Wheel... in the weeks following its June 19 release, as I learn to live with it and my focus tracks alternate on a daily basis, depending on my mood. (As I type, "Werewolf," "Periphery" and the album-closing "Hot Knife," which sounds a little like Apple fronting as all three Andrew Sisters, are the ones on repeat.)

For now, though, I'm stuck on the words, which is easy to do since, unlike her last album, 2005's Extraordinary Machine, in both its John Brion-produced and Mike Elizondo/Brian Kehew-reconstructed versions, The Idler Wheel... is a more or less a bare-bones production. It emphasizes the baroque beauty of Apple's voice, still fiery and fierce, pushing, pulling, tugging and guiding listeners through piano-and-percussion arrangements that are her most jazz-inflected yet.

But getting back to the words... Some of them are still working their way through my consciousness multiple listens later.

"How can I ask anyone to love me/ When all I do is beg to be left alone?" ("Left Alone")

"I could liken you to a werewolf the way you left me for dead/ But I admit that I provided a full moon" ("Werewolf")

"You were such a super guy/ Till the second you get away from me" ("Werewolf")

"We could still support each other/ All we've got to do is avoid each other" ("Werewolf")

"Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key" ("Werewolf")

"You found a prettier girl than me/ With a more even-tempered air" ("Periphery")

"All that loving must have been lacking something/ If I got bored trying to figure you out/ You let me down/ I don't even like you anymore at all" ("Periphery")

"Now when you look at me/ You're condemned to see/ The monster your mother made you be/... and that's how you got free/ You got rid of me" ("Regret")

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