★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The thing about Fiona Apple is that the mystery surrounding her music, her emotional and mental well-being, and the fact that she literally will disappear for years at a time (sounds like a female Maynard Keenan or a slightly younger Tori Amos) only seems to grow her legend. And when she pops up every few years, with yet another gem of an album under her skinny arm, it amazes and dazzles us as if it were our first time hearing her all over again. A tremendously enjoyable and altogether listenable (for a broad audience, in fact) release, The Idler Wheel is exactly what you'd come to expect from Apple 16 years after the release of her debut album, Tidal. A mature yet still unsettling – in a way that only she can pull off while sounding beautiful – album of ten tracks, you get everything you want – if what you want is a slightly older and deeper (is that even possible) version of the 18-year-old that we thought we knew so well in "Criminal" and "Shadowboxer." And not to slam Extraordinary Machine in any way – that was a splendid album, as well. But The Idler Wheel is just that much more grown up (as much as is possible from Apple). Fret not, however, there's still the requisite upbeat, all-over-the-place manic anthems on this release – "Daredevil" and "Left Alone" – but it also maintains a level of adult sincerity and truth (two things that Apple has come to be known for). "Werewolf" is a fantastic mix of her charming vocals and dramatically dark piano work. This collection of tracks, as a whole, seems to be a great mixture of traditional Apple impishness and brooding adult Fiona. Well worth your time, but that album title? Yeah, that's just a little beyond obnoxious.
Worth a Listen: "Werewolf" and "Every Single Night"