Thursday, October 06, 2005

Comparing Apple to Apple

Without being one of the privileged who downloaded the Jon Brion version of the third Fiona Apple album, I will have to judge the release (as released) on its own merits.

Extraordinary Machine is a great album! With a campy playfulness, the title track kicks things off wonderfully. Immediately evident is the fact that, while the acerbic wit of the artist remains intact, the simmering anger has dissipated. The title track is self-deprecating, smug and giddily transcendent with a buoyant and carnivalesque sound.

Apple has grown a lot in the six years since When the Pawn…, but has lost none of her punch. "Parting Gift" is a dark and brooding as anything of her earlier releases and just as satisfying. "Window" is a telling vision of the search for perspective while "Better Version of Me" is an exultant ode to personal growth. And, to the critics of the Elizondo mixes, "Please Please Please, may just be the artist’s response.

On Extraordinary Machine Apple takes chances unheard of on her previous albums. Her vocal flourishes do nothing to diminish the power of her voice, which has always been her most rewarding instrument. It may not be her masterwork, and maybe the Jon Brion mixes are preferable, but this album proves that Fiona Apple is an artist with a unique and compelling vision.

And speaking of extraordinary machines, this is what my iPod is playing:

1. "Office of Hearts" by Guided By Voices
2. "Fast As You Can" by Fiona Apple
3. "We’re Desperate" by X
4. "I Would For You" by Jane’s Addiction
5. "Claudine" by the Geraldine Fibbers
6. "Success" by Iggy Pop
7. "Green Arrow" by Yo La Tengo
8. "Dream Scream" by Daniel Johnston
9. "Rollover D.J." by Jet
10. "Devilock" by Misfits


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