Only Fiona Apple can release an album titled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do and have no one bat an eye. That is because she previously released an album whose title was so long it could double the length of this review if I printed it in its entirely. Weirdly enough the number of words in the album title is more than the words in the album tracks combined. And though it has been seven years since her last album, the new album sounds like a rawer version of Extraordinary Machine (which can be explain by Fiona self producing this album unlike the last with polished producer Mike Elizando). Even her vocals become more unhinged during her darker songs than we have heard before.
Only the vibraphone enhanced Every Single Night, which crescendos into a big chorus, is the new song that could have fit well on Extraordinary Machine. The only other song that comes close is the bouncy Periphery. Though the rest of the album is rarely just Fiona and her piano, there is sparseness all over her new album even when there is a full band behind her. Fans of the striped down Fiona will definitely appreciate songs like Valentine, Jonathan and Regret. These songs may be hard to listen to the first time around, butstart to grown on you after a couple listen throughs.
The album is at its best when Fiona pusher her boundaries like when she occasionally includes tribal beats like at the beginning of Left Alone before transitioning into a frantic jazz track. Anything We Want sound like it uses Coke bottles as percussion. She really goes all out for the final track Hot Knife where Apple makes a weird analogy where she is butter and the guy in her life the preverbal hot knife. That is pretty much the entire songs with her scatting over a weird drum circle beat for four minutes.
Song to Download – Hot Knife
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.