Best Albums of the 2010s – #7
The idler Wheel… – Fiona Apple (2012)
I’ve noted that several artists on this list have had a lean decade, production-wise. Fiona Apple takes first prize in that regard, releasing only one album over the last ten years, 2012’s The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do.
Most people just call it The Idler Wheel.
Best Albums of the 10s So Far
#3 – Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
Fiona Apple released my second favorite album of the 90s (When the Pawn…) and my second favorite album of the 00s (Extraordinary Machine). Here she sits in the #3 spot for the 10s.
That’s a hell of a streak. Imagine if the woman put out more than one album per decade.
My admiration for Fiona Apple is well documented on this blog. By now, I believe I’ve posted more than half of her songs, including the entirety of her second album (When the Pawn…).
When I want to offer up something provocative and challenging, she’s my go-to gal.
Take today’s left-field mind-bender. ‘Left Alone’ starts off with a peppy little drum solo before launching into an unsettling, discordant piano part that underscores the rest of the song.
Fiona Apple has released some wonderful videos during her career, many courtesy of one-time boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson.
My favorites are the big-band dance number they staged for the ‘Paper Bag’ video and the slow-mo black-and-white clip accompanying her cover of ‘Across the Universe’ (recorded for the film Pleasantville).
Top Songs of 2012 – #3
I’ve been pleased to see Fiona Apple’s latest album (after a seven year break) sitting at or near the to of one critic’s list after another.
The Idler Wheel… is a dark and difficult record but a deeply rewarding one. It epitomizes what it means to create art through popular music and it’s the best album I heard all year.
I’m approaching all of the artists in this musical genome series from the perspective of the categories I’ve defined, so in those terms it’s pretty clear that I’m a huge Fiona Apple fan because she’s a) a ‘Piano (Wo)man’ and b) ‘Melancholy.’
But if you were to ask me why I love Apple’s work apart from the context of this project, I wouldn’t mention either of those things. I would say I’m a Fiona Apple fan because of her voice, and because of the passion she pours into every lyric and melody she writes, every word and note she performs.
It’s been seven years since Fiona Apple’s last album, the much-delayed Extraordinary Machine. That record was initially leaked in one form before being officially released in another, and speculation was rampant that studio pressure had forced Apple to give the songs a more mainstream sound.
She denied that, and it doesn’t really seem like her. I’d expect her to never release another album in her life rather than something she wasn’t 100% behind.