Growing up is a difficult thing for anyone, least of all an artist like Fiona Apple. She's made a (reluctant) career of being an angst-ridden perpetual-teen weirdo. In the six years since Extraordinary Machine, has Fiona taken the Tori Amos ride into irrelevant MILF-dom?
"Every single night's a fight, and every single fight's alright," she sings on the album's opener Every Single Night. It's a frightfully ambitious beginning, leaving it pretty easy for the rest of the record to fall flat in its wake. Luckily for us, The Idler Wheel… is in no danger of disappointing anyone.
Daredevil finds Fiona wailing in a primal scream therapy session, mixed with a staccato piano that wouldn't be unfamiliar to Broadway audiences.
Valentine, the only song here that could be called upbeat, arrives to remind us (and maybe herself) that "I stand no chance of growing up."
Like most of the album, the only percussion on the track seems to be Fiona herself smacking her piano with her bare fists. It lends the record an air of cohesiveness it might have otherwise lacked, given its more avant-garde tendencies.
The album, as a whole, is a remarkable achievement. Let's hope she never gets over whatever is bothering her. A happy, boring Fiona Apple would be a tragedy.