Fiona Apple’s Idler Wheel…: The Reviews Are In!

by (@zaragolden)


After six years in record label limbo or hiding or love and hearbreak or anywhere but the spotlight, Fiona Apple has returned. Her much-anticipated fourth album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, is out today, and it has critics pretty universally in awe. Here are some of the nice things they’re saying:

“The stories do say something about obsession and control, and are indicative of how exacting an artist she is. After four albums in sixteen years, Apple has racked up maybe five bad songs, total. “Idler Wheel” is less crammed with detail than her last record, Extraordinary Machine, but it has the same effect: once heard, a song lodges in the mind, melodies take root, and words loop of their own accord. It is an astonishing album. ” – Sasha Frere- Jones’ review for The New Yorker

“This is the most distilled Fiona Apple album yet … It’s an old-school approach, though it rises well above mere sepia Instagrams. Instead of being far-off and dreamy, her throwback moves are the opposite– intrusive, corporeal. This is not background music. It demands attention. ‘Look at! Look at! Look at! Look at me!’” – Ryan Dombal’s 9.0 review for Pitchfork

“In a world of animated-GIF reaction shots and retweets turning human expression into a nuance-obliterating, endlessly self-cannibalizing, pop-culture-referencing semaphore system, Apple’s willingness (or maybe the correct word is need) to dig deep and pick the scabs, to excavate the black gunk that has settled at the bottom of one’s heart after so long, is a welcome shock. That she then subsequently articulates how those emotions came to be without resorting to cliché or puffy metaphor, while placing her lyrics atop music that spins wildly afield of the idea of ‘pop’ yet still has a Krazy Glue-like ability to stick to the brain, only serves to make her stand out more.” – Maura Johnston’s review for Village Voice

The Idler Wheel is an unvarnished joy, uninterested in dazzling us with clever pop, opting instead to whip Apple’s muse to within an inch of its life. The unexpected triumph lies not in the spectacle of the singer raw-dogging her emotions, but in her total command of the anarchy that results. The demons remain, but her talent prevails.” – Jessica Hopper’s 8 out of 10 review for Spin

“I echo basically everything that’s been said in those positive reviews — that the stripped-down arrangements showcase her voice and words, that the songs are odd and difficult at first but make their own unique niches in your brain after a few listens, that her honesty makes the lyrics of even the most perceptive pop songs sound like what you might read in a Hallmark card. But, in stark contrast to the received wisdom about who Fiona Apple is, what really stands out to me is how phenomenally sane I find The Idler Wheel.” — Judy Berman’s review for FlavorWire

” The feelings Apple takes on in her deliberately maddening, eventually addictive new songs are those that inch us along, filling up most of our lives: icky little feelings like petty jealousy, self-doubt, bored loneliness and shamed regret. This is the stuff we’d rather tamp down. Apple wraps her fingers around it and makes it unavoidable.” — Ann Powers’ Review for NPR

The Idler Wheel…is a challenging album. The songs are intricately arranged but sonically stark, foregrounding Apple’s piano and the stupendous drumming of Charley Drayton. There’s not a single big, chewy hook on the album. Sometimes the songs drag … But Apple’s kooky energy pushes through the slow spots.” — Jody Rosen’s 4.5 star review for Rolling Stone

And you? Have a listen. And then we’d love to hear your thoughts about Fiona Apple’s new album in the comments below!

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