Fiona Apple's back with her first album in seven years, and the critics are eating it up. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (breathe) is "the most distilled Fiona Apple album yet," according to Pitchfork.
That site gave it a 9.0 rating, praising tracks like "Left Alone" as "nothing short of a vocal masterclass." "She's able to convey more with a quick, original turn of phrase -- "my woes are granular," for one -- or an in-the-moment scrunch of the face than many pop stars are able to muster with 100-foot screens and volcano pyrotechnics," Ryan Dombal writes.
Entertainment Weekly was similarly impressed, slapping an A rating on the disc. "Like Apple herself," writes Melissa Maerz, "it's highly confessional and creative and temperamental, and will probably make you fall crazy in love."
"You have to give yourself over to The Idler Wheel in a way you probably haven't done since you were a kid, before jobs and other adult responsibilities claimed the long hours you spent curled up by your stereo speakers," Maerz continues. "It isn't easy listening. But it's worth it."
Allison Stewart of The Washington Post starts her review with a bang, but is also a fan of the album. "This isn't the Fiona Apple album you've been waiting for," she begins before adding that though it may be her "best album yet," "it's the one you'll least want to hear again."
Stewart found Apple's "acoustic ballads with bared teeth, draped over skeleton frames of piano and oddball percussion" to be raw to the point of reveling "in [their] dissonance -- to a perverse extent."
Apple also impressed Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune, who branded it with a healthy 3.5 out of 4 stars. "These songs brim with musical personality," he writes. "Even if the subject matter is often pretty dire."
According to the critics, essential tracks include "Every Single Night," "Regret," "Valentine" and "Werewolf."
What do you think? Share your take on Idler Wheel... in the comments. The album hits US stores Tuesday.