Fiona Apple is back after a long seven years with tracks strung as highly as you might expect, a deep mix of cathartic workouts and nervous repression about to implode at any moment. It’s what Apple does best, and this also happens to be Apple at her best.
From the vocally charged opener, Every Single Night, where the sparse backing exists only as a rough marker for Apple to sweep past with an intense vocal, it’s clear the New York born musician remains on the edge, somewhere her art clearly thrives. But this time she has a sparser set of songs, more inclined to slip into off-kilter notes, whilst her words are almost shamelessly honest.
Valentine has a more solitary jazz mood, an obsession theme creeping out of the heavy-hit piano keys with a typically disjointed swing. A similar moment returns with Werewolf – again, relationships are at the stormy centre of the turbulently performed piano piece. The line “But you were such a super guy until the second you get a whiff of me” is a pretty good pointer on where Apple’s head is at here.
The highest point has to be Periphery with its low-riding and cyclical piano riff, intermittent “oohs” and a rush of percussive invention. It’s everything that we expect from an original whose passion is barely controllable in the studio or the stage.
We all experience intense moments in our lives, yet when listening to Apple’s music it’s as if she remains forever in that amplified state of emotion. It can’t be an easy way to exist but it sure makes for some special music.