Brilliant songwriting and brave performances

Originally published on StereoIQ’s Best Albums of 2012 )

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
Early in this album Fiona Apple shouts, “Look at me! I’m all the fishes in the sea!” and we can’t help but take notice. The sparsely-arranged Idler Wheel, which features just voice, piano and percussion, is a brave and sometimes difficult tour-de-force. But it’s Apple’s lyrical prowess that raises this album to “Best Of” status. She forges lines with internal swing (“My heart’s made of parts of all that surround me/ And that’s why the Devil just can’t get around me”) and plays virtuoso with language and metaphor (“The rib is the shell and the heart is the yolk/ And I just made a meal for us both to choke on). These songs are as confessional as any Apple has written. In hushed whispers and full-throated howls she explains why life is so difficult for her (“The ants weigh more than the elephants”) but she also serves up a reason for everyone to stop worrying : “Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key.”  — Stephanie Conn


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