What's less surprising: that Fiona Apple's new album reads like a diary of a very scarred girl, or that its title is a whopping 116 characters long? They're not mutually exclusive, as anyone who's followed the 34-year-old singer-songwriter over the past 16 years can tell you. Her first album since 2005's excellent Extraordinary Machine peels away any protective layers to reveal an artist who still isn't comfortable with this whole relationship thing. You can hear the discomfort in Apple's words, and you can hear it in her melodies, the most jarring, fragile, and remote of her career. From "Every Single Night"'s attic-bound lullaby to the bleeding-heart "Valentine" to the jazzy "Left Alone," The Idler Wheel is Apple's least inviting work and her most personal. — Michael Gallucci
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