Top Ten Albums of 2012: # 2

FionaAppleIdlerWheel600Gb

2. 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

The moment she made her infamous, glorious “This is bullshit!” acceptance speech at the 1997 MTV Music Video Awards, you knew a conventional career was never in the cards for her. With only four albums in sixteen years, she’s less prolific than Imperial Teen. And the best thing you can say about the unwieldy title is that it’s about four times shorter than her second album’s. However, once you sit down and actually listen to the damn thing (preferably on headphones), all of her public shenanigans instantly fade, for The Idler Wheel… strikingly sounds like nothing else, let alone much like her previous work (a relief, given Extraordinary Machine’s misguided attempts to feel modern). The only precedent I can think of is Sam Phillips’ recent stuff (particularly Don’t Do Anything) with its timeless, stripped-down tableau of percussion, piano and voice, but even Phillips (one of my favorite artists) has not managed music quite as ambitious and frightening and cathartic and arguably confident as this. The songs’ melodies may take a few spins to register and resonate, but once they do, the album’s allure seems infinite, as if one were to walk through a series of rooms and continually find another new door to open, another instrumental motif or vocal inflection to discover and obsess over. If that sounds too oblique for your taste, think of it as confessional swing music for people desperately trying to escape their dance partners, and simply marvel at the exultant chorale of vocal rounds Apple assembles on masterful closer “Hot Knife”.

Favorite tracks: “Hot Knife”, “Anything We Want”, “Every Single Night”, “Left Alone”, “Periphery”, “Werewolf”

Video for “Hot Knife”:

Video for “Every Single Night”:

One Response to Top Ten Albums of 2012: # 2

  1. Howard says:

    Well, you know I’m going to like this one. 🙂 (Just about to publish mine)

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