I’m pretty sure I remember Fiona Apple saying in an interview that “if you create something, you should feel like you have nothing left.” This album feels exactly like that – like Apple has put all of the emotion and experience of the seven years since her last album into The Idler Wheel…
These songs are mostly just Apple and her piano, but this isn’t pleasantly forgettable singer-songwriter background music. This is an album to be played loudly. That’s when the quirky and difficult melodies become cathartic and Apple’s ragged and soulful voice raises hairs.
On “Valentine,” one of the many highlights, she sings “I love you” in a way that no one ever has. “I love you” becomes an accusation filled with anger, desperation and guilt. By the end of the song Apple instead sounds resigned and disappointed, describing the complicated emotions of being in a relationship.
Every song on this album was at one time my favourite, but that’s not just simply because I think they’re all great. There’s something to learn in every song about how humans work, though Apple is someone to relate to instead of someone who gives advice. There’s something powerfully reassuring about how she is able to describe the things that we all feel but have a hard time figuring out how to admit.
“How can I ask anyone to love me,” Apple asks, “When all I do is beg to be left alone?” She gets at the difficult question of how we are supposed to deal with feeling selfish in relationships when we’re supposed to be selfless. Even when she seems happy on “Anything We Want,” Apple still longs for love to be as simple and pure as when she was young. What makes this album so powerful is how Apple expresses complex emotions so directly and with a cutting wit.
After Apple was arrested earlier last year for drug possession, gossip sites turned their attention to relentlessly comment on her weight and appearance. She asked at a concert for the people incessantly writing about her to “please stop hurting my feelings, because it really fucking bothers me.” Apple was sincere, honest and vulnerable – just like her music. The Idler Wheel… is a call to feel everything.
Nolan Matthews, Senior ANDY Editor