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A little over a week ago, I saw Ms. Fiona Apple at The Chicago Theatre. If you recall, the last time I tried to get tickets to see her was a bust. When word of her return to Chicago came, I snatched those tickets up like a kid who – afraid of not getting a piece of cake – eats the whole thing.
Anyway, I listened to her 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) only once before the show and I was kind of lukewarm about it. The lead single “Every Single Night” was pleasant enough. “Anything We Want” was whimsical, light-hearted even – which, considering it’s Fiona – was a bit strange.
But I couldn’t seem to get around the rest of it. Fiona, at 34, is still constantly heartbroken, still raging – this time, we even get a name in a track (“Jonathan” is ex-boyfriend writer Jonathan Ames). And while it serves a purpose artistically, I winced when she screamed instead of sang on “Regret,” arguably the angriest song this album has to offer.
It was only when I saw her live that I began to appreciate the album more. The sparse instrumentation featured throughout lent itself well to the live setting, and on the album it becomes very clear that Apple is who she’s always been – emotional, raw, and deluded in the best possible sense – and she’s going to do whatever she wants.
Does this album live up to past releases? If you’re into minimalism, then sure – but be warned that this is not the “bad, bad girl” who introduced herself to us sixteen years ago. “The Idler Wheel…” is anything but idle, constantly propelling itself with wild, crazy-eyed abandon.