#5: Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel
I had been a casual fan of Fiona Apple since the days of seeing her then-scandalous “Criminal” on VH1′s Insomniac Music Theater, but the long and arduous process we all went through in 2004 and 2005 to hear and see the release of Extraordinary Machine — and the ultimately outstanding result of that album — cemented Fiona Apple’s status as one of my favorite artists. After that, it was a long 7 years waiting for more new material. So I was ecstatic upon the announcement and release of The Idler Wheel in 2012. The lead track “Every Single Night” was released in the spring to near-universal acclaim. Billboard said it best: It was “exactly what Fiona Apple’s cult of devotees had been yearning for”, radio airplay and accessibility be damned. The song and video were both winding, spiraling, and exquisitely weird. My other favorite tracks like “Werewolf”, “Periphery”, “Anything We Want”, and “Hot Knife”, along with the rest of the album, followed this template, serving as a risky, powerful, unabashed, and raw artistic outlet of emotion. The Idler Wheel isn’t designed for easy listening — it’s best experienced front-to-back with minimal distractions, so that you can be fully consumed by its excruciating anguish and intensity. Now more than ever, Fiona Apple is unapologetically herself — one of the most truly individual artists of our time.
My top 40 albums of 2012: Because it’s better late than never.