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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fiona Does Disney!

Fiona Apple's latest album, Extraordinary Machine, inspired me to do something I had never done before--write a review. I even posted it on Amazon.
(This is the last post from 2005, aside from a fan letter to Zach Braff that I am too embarrassed to post here :)
Keep reading!!

November 2005

Don't be alarmed. I don't mean Ms. Apple has sold out to the mega-corporation. She's just begun to make wonderful, whimsical music, and it seems she's finally begun to take herself much less seriously! It's refreshing, interesting, heartfelt, poignant music, not to mention the best lyrics she's ever written. It takes a couple listens, all the way through, for this album's superbness to begin to sink in. But right away, "Extraordinary Machine" grabs you, with its unexpected orchestrations--oboe and bells that delightfully enhance this downright catchy tune. The ironic pairing of such whimsy with lyrics about adaptability in a raucous relationship ("Be kind to me or treat me mean/I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine") is delicious.

The sadness and anger at the fall-out of her relationship sneak up on you. She boasts in "Get Him Back," the most driving of the songs, "But wait till I get him back/He won't have a back to scratch." The kinetic force of her determination and frustration is palpable. But then she also takes time to reflect on her possible insanity at such intense feelings. In "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)," accompanied by what sounds like Danny Elfman-inspired percussion and is reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas, she wonders, "I'm either so sick in the head/I need to be bled dry, to quit/Or I just really used to love him/I sure hope that's it."

Her signature piano playing is almost forgotten among the near-perfect production of the supplemental orchestrations, until she rocks out in "Not About Love." Her fierceness on the piano sweeps the song away into rage, even as she belts, "This is not about love/Cause I am not in love/In fact I can't stop falling out." Ouch.

This may be my new favorite break-up album, for all the above reasons, and these simple, hilarious lyrics, in "Oh Well": "What wasted unconditional love/On somebody/Who doesn't believe in the stuff/Oh well." This album is, in the end, about moving on, with your dignity and sense of humor intact.

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