“How can I ask anyone to love me / When all I do is beg to be left alone?” Fiona Apple sings on “Werewolf,” the second single from her jarring fourth album. It’s an apt question, and one so fitting of the waif-like songwriter, whose name had all but disappeared off the pop-music radar in the seven years since her last record. But The Idler Wheel finds Apple surfacing at the perfect time and acting as the unlikely mirror for the state of modern pop music. Like her past efforts, The Idler Wheel is brimming with ugly truths, abrupt signature changes, and whip-smart lyricism (“You didn’t see my valentine / I sent it via pantomime” she sings on “Valentine”). But it also finds Apple at her most sonically bare. Drums and piano make up the majority of the album’s instrumentation, and found sounds dance in, out, and around many of the tracks. A steady stream of brutalizing, highly personal tales and tightly-wound observations makes The Idler Wheel Apple’s best work to date and a stark example of what music can — and should more often — be. Fiona Apple plays the Santa Barbara Bowl on Wednesday, September 12. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.
The Idler Wheel