When: Tue., July 10, 7:30 p.m. 2012
On her first album in seven years, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic), Fiona Apple seems to have finally gotten her way with her record company—she's had notorious spats over releases and held this one for nearly two years waiting for the right window. Her lyrics are blunt and raw, as usual, but her singing sounds more unhinged, spontaneous, and wide-ranging than ever. Though the instrumentation usually consists of no more than Apple's piano and Charley Drayton's drums (she sometimes works in a bit of guitar and celesta, and helped with the rich array of percussive field recordings blended into the songs), the sound design is astonishing, with shifting details and wild dynamic range. Apple asserts repeatedly that she wants to experience life fully, from extreme to extreme: "I don't feel anything until I smash it up," she sings in "Daredevil." In most of the songs she chronicles failed and crippled relationships, poring over the details in search of understanding—and she doesn't spare herself. In "Left Alone" she admits, "How can I ask anyone to love me / When all I do is beg to be left alone." Luckily her melodic prowess and knack for invention prevent the record from getting so wrapped up in those lyrics that it sounds like a therapy session; it's her most gripping and original work yet. —Peter Margasak Blake Mills opens.