If the length of the title of Fiona Apple’s new LP The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is any indication, it’s that she wanted her words to be the guiding force of the record. Lo and behold, Apple’s lyrics embody a stark candor that commands attention and leads to some interesting revelations. Check out Stereo IQ Co-founder Alex Koenig’s breakdown of the top 10 lyrics on The Idler Wheel…
10. “The rib is the shell and the heart is the yolk / And I just made a meal for us both to choke on.”
She compares her body parts, namely her ribs and heart, to the fragility of an egg. Only by cracking the egg, and subsequently breaking her own heart, can she create a scenario where it is appropriate to part ways. Essentially, she is torn with this decision and no matter how she goes about it, it will hurt both parties.
9. “We are like a wishing well and a bolt of electricity / But we can still support each other, all we gotta do is avoid each other.”
Apple suggests here that the idiom “opposites attract” might be more fiction than fact, believing that electricity isn’t always the best idea for a relationship; with the wrong partner, it can be hazardous. Moreover, she has problems with staying friends post-breakup, halfheartedly offering courtesy and support to someone she doesn’t want to have around.
8. “That’s where the pain comes in / Like a second skeleton, trying to fit beneath the skin.”
Fiona Apple’s mind is emotionally tormented to the point of suffering physical pain with each passing thought. This lyric can also be seen as symbolic of her lover’s abject inability to make love, with every attempt leaving Apple feeling squeamish and unsatisfied.
7. “You like to captain a capsized ship / But I like watching you live.”
This one is an example of Apple’s passive response to a plummeting romance. Her love interest, “Jonathan,” has evidently done something to capsize the couple’s relationship; perhaps he cheated, or maybe his personal growth has stagnated. Either way, Apple hands him a lifeboat because she feels unlikely find someone better.
6. “I’m amorous but out of reach / A still life drawing of a peach.”
Apple reveals here that she has pretty much stopped trying to fulfill her romantic and sexual desires. Alhough Apple might be “in the mood” and look enticing as a peach, she remains closed off– as unobtainable as an illusion of the fruit. She knows that her needs will be unrequited, so she doesn’t bother.
Click the picture or hit next for the top 5…
5. “Let’s pretend we’re eight years old playin’ hooky / I draw on the wall and you can play UFC rookie.”
We’ve finally found the direct antithesis to Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games”: a fantasy about craving a man with childlike mischief and innocence instead of one defined by grown-up responsibility. Apple provides a unique portrait of her lover, reveling in his youthful imagination rather than brazen masculinity.
4. “I ran out of white dove feathers to soak up the hot piss that comes through your mouth every time you address me.”
Arguably the most piquant insult on the album is also the most notable example of Apple’s crippling passive-aggressive behavior. Dove feathers, which represent peace and tranquility, seem to be Apple’s sole defense against her partner’ s endless paltering. At this point, however, she’s run out of patience and is in seething attack mode.
3. “Have them forge you a pedigree and then you’ll be left to run the races lame.”
“The world is bullshit…go with yourself,” Apple famously stated in her acceptance speech after winning an MTV Video Music Award in 1997. 15 years later, this line from “Periphery” reinforces what Apple has prided herself on throughout her career: A disregard of facades and an unyielding commitment to authenticity.
2. “My ills are articulate, my woes are granular.”
Describing your physical ills to a doctor is one thing; describing your emotional troubles to a friend is another. The former is a fairly uncomplicated task, but the latter can cause trouble—it is rarely clear-cut and easily susceptible to scrutiny. Apple is understandably better at describing physical pain. After all, your character won’t be prone to coarse judgment if you get a tummy ache.
1. “Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key.”
Throughout The Idler Wheel… Apple shifts primarily between the first four stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression), but on “Werewolf”, she howls a tune of unabashed acceptance. No, she isn’t happy, but she doesn’t have to be: sometimes working with the negatives can make for better pictures.