Fiona Apple’s Mind is a Rube Goldberg Machine
Jeff reviews Fiona Apple's new elpee "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do."
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The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is the yammery full title of Fiona Apple’s latest elpee, a record filled with songs that are far more stripped down to their bare musical essentials than the extravagant title would suggest. Apple has always had a Laura Nyro-like knack for bending titanic forces like jazz, soul, and Tin Pan Alley into any shape she desires, and she does so again here, wrapping them around her bleeding lyrics like bandages.
Every track is a nervous, messy clot of emotion, most of which are supremely compelling, and cause me to think that Apple and Charlie Kaufman should get together and write the GREATEST BROADWAY MUSICAL EVER. At other times, when Apple is singing overwrought purple prose like “I’m an airplane/And the gashes I got from my heartbreak/ Make the slots and the flaps upon my wing/And I use ’em to give me lift,” listening to the record becomes akin to being trapped in a car on a long trip with a friend who just can’t stop talking about their most recent romantic breakup. You feel for them, but after awhile, you instinctively want to either slap them or jump out of the car. For the vast majority of the The Idler Wheel
however, I could not get over the feeling that Fiona Apple, using a minimalist approach, is trying to invent something completely new, and that’s what makes her and her new record so very worth listening to.