Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Ever Do [Epic, 2012]
A funny thing will happen once you've figured out that the title is the stupidest thing about an album that's damn catchy after all. It'll sound like a piano record--a defiantly primitivist, raucously avant-garde lounge singer's piano record, with a really nutty drummer: he'll-bang-on-anything (and-get-her-to-pitch-in) producer Charley Drayton. There are few arpeggios, and not much tone color and such. She just executes simple figures and hammers thick chords, including a few boogie-woogies just to make a point. She also sings--words, yes, but more decisively, sounds. Not background music. But you could sure call it mood music. A-