Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
Epic/Clean Slate, 2005
Fiona’s last album, 1999’s When the Pawn, made me feel like all my
ex-girlfriends ever were yelling at me all at once. Moreover, it made me
feel like I deserved it. I listened to that thing non-stop for weeks.
Like that crazy chick you thought you managed to set up with some other
poor schmuck, Fiona finally reappeared last week to renew the abuse with
Extraordinary Machine. She expertly utilizes the double meaning inherent
in the title of the second track, “Get Him Back.” An obvious device,
perhaps, but her signature discordant piano makes the point much better
than her sometimes brilliant, sometimes clunky poetry, so you can look
past the words.
fact, some of the weirdest moments on the CD come when there’s a
completely orthodox chord resolution. The title track’s chorus contains
a downright chipper few bars, and “Better Version of Me” overlays an
unlikely vaudeville tune over the equally unlikely “Oh, after all / The
folderol / And hauling over coals / Stops / What will I do.”
Now, I love Fiona. I really do. But you do have to wonder about someone
who follows a song called “Please Please Please” with one called “Red
Red Red,” and in the latter says the word “kill” six times in a row.
Then again, the same song contains the lines, “I don’t understand about
diamonds / And why men buy them / What’s so impressive about a diamond /
Except the mining.” This manages to both validate my belief that diamond
rings are stupidly extravagant and impress me with her philosophical
punning. The mine-ing. As in, making mine. As in, marking as one’s
stretch? Maybe. I give crazy chicks the benefit of the doubt.
John “jaQ” Andrews