If you have been following my blog, you may remember I made a list of the top 12 albums of 2012.
Having had more time to allow these albums to sink in, I have changed the order of one album in particular.
Originally it sat at number 12 on my list. It has now soared to the top of my list. Not only is this album my favorite of this year, but quite possibly the last 10 years, or more.
The album is by Fiona Apple, entitled: “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.” (whew, I said that all in one breath)
This album has seeped into my soul and I have become almost obsessed with its brilliance. A real work of art.
The sparse arrangements feature Apple accompanied only by piano and percussion. This may seem familiar since it was done by John Lennon on his first solo work, Plastic Ono Band.
There are many striking similarities to these two albums. Lennon featured the therapeutic concept of primal scream on the song “Mother”, His album was as introspective as anything ever released at the time and remains a classic today. Lennon let his emotions out on that album and it worked.
Fiona emotes on a level that would make John Lennon uncomfortable. At first, this may seem like a troubled drama queen having continuous tantrums, but it’s so much deeper than that.
Apple has succeeded in not only letting us in to feel her pain, but lashing the knife right at us. This album is like a slasher movie. Complete with howls, grunts, groans and quivers through jazzy, bluesy vocal stylings that never cease to enthrall. Many times I find myself saying “how the hell does she do that with her voice”.
Putting aside the brilliant arrangements of these songs, the lyrics are downright disturbing. Fiona conjures up images of the obsessed ex-girlfriend, as well as the even scarier current girlfriend. You do not want to piss her off.
She has been through hell, and she doesn’t want to tell you about it, she wants to take you back there and show you. “look at this” “look at it, look at it, look at it”, “look what you did”, “look what I did” she seems to say. You can’t look away. You feel it, up and down your spine. And it’s amazing. This is what a true artist does. They infect you. I am infected.
Not since that first Lennon solo album, or Patti Smith, Horses, has an artist made me feel this uncomfortable.
And I absolutely LOVE IT.
Thank you Fiona for making a masterpiece. I thought for sure that after your last brilliant work, “Extraordinary Machine”, you were artistically exhausted, but apparently not.
Can’t wait to see what you do next.
Please don’t take 5 years.
For me, Fiona Apple is the best new artist to make music in the last 25 years. and “Idler Wheel…”, the best album of 2012, 2011, 2010…