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Aural Pleasure Review

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'

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In the fourth coming of Fiona Apple, with its darkly philosophical title that sounds as though Emily Dickinson could have written it, the listener is — at once — therapist, friend, and nemesis. Apple oozes a belligerent and supremely hopeful charisma, while laying down characteristic lines about the shaky psychology of the modern relationship: writ large and with a personal blush. The colorfully chaotic flux that we find the speaker caught in is echoed and heightened by jazzy yet sparse piano progressions and broodingly spastic percussion. The peculiarly unsettling perfection of "Every Single Night," "Werewolf," and "Anything We Want" — each saturated in emotive piano textures and the mellow fever of Apple's haunting voice — is all the evidence of her genius anyone should need. Then there's the frighteningly neurotic album closer "Hot Knife," anchored by an impeccable and tempestuously multi-layered harmonic chorus. Apple, some might say, hasn't grown that much as a musician or branched out enough in her songwriting — she hasn't needed to. Nothing, as she continually rediscovers in song after song, is wrong with Fiona Apple — she's just got a big, big fire to burn.

★★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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