The Idler Wheel
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel
Critic Score
Based on 27 reviews
2012 Ratings: #4 / 928
Year End Rank: #5
User Score
Based on 377 ratings
2012 Ratings: #7
Your Review


A.V. Club

The Idler Wheel… is an innately private record, as Apple’s tend to be, but she has a way of drawing listeners in as she pushes them away, luring them, siren-like, into the maelstrom of her own reflection.

Entertainment Weekly

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. It isn’t easy listening. But it’s worth it.


Apple has quite cleverly developed musically in just the right way, creating something utterly distinct and different to her earlier work whilst still retaining all the characteristics that won fans over to begin with.


The Idler Wheel's spareness does lend it an insular loneliness, one that's divorced from the outside world while also being intimately in-tune with its basic realities.

Consequence of Sound

The Idler Wheel succeeds in creating a singular world more daring than any of Apple’s previous records and one of the most daring pop records in recent history.

No Ripcord

The sparse, even unprompted production only makes it richer, resulting in a fascinating unanimity of piano and voice that turns more involving with every clink, clatter, and clap.


Few vocalists can erase the distance between performer and listener as shrewdly as Apple can, and that toggle gives The Idler Wheel its strange power.

Beats Per Minute

Since there’s so little to grab onto, The Idler Wheel might be better understood as an emotional statement rather than a musical one.


The tension created by the lyrics and music is wonderful and uneasy, ensuring that ‘The Idler…’ is endlessly fascinating and unlike anything else you’re likely to hear this year. 

FACT Magazine

The Idler Wheel… is her most adult work yet, a record that’s underpinned by the fundamental grown-up characteristic of embracing one’s own ridiculous, stubborn dysfunction because, Hell, what other option is there?


Whipping Cords seems to require far too many listens to really reach that ‘viola!’ moment—sure to result in exhausted listeners who try desperately to love the record as much as they think they should

Feb 20, 2016
Is it strange to criticize this for being too mature?

Favourite tracks: Valentine, Werewolf, Hot Knife
Jan 11, 2014
Sincerely, this is one of the best albums I've ever listened. The powerful and confessional lyrics, the sharp and precise instrumentation — everything has a beautiful and raw taste. The Idler Wheel touches me personally, it makes me think, feel and realize many things in my life. Fiona Apple is truly gifted, she shares her inner person with the listener, in a way that her statements means a lot concerning our own experiences. I simply don't know what to expect from her next ... read more
Jul 13, 2013
I can't word things nearly as eloquently as Fiona, but if I could, this could almost be my diary put to music. Few albums speak to me like this. Few albums are this perfect either. The butter-and-honey piano, the bourbon-soaked strings, the razor-sharp lyrics: it all hits like a ton of bricks, as if your subconscious is barraging you with personal revelations and pouring peroxide over your wounds at the same time. It's hard to describe very well, but one word comes to mind: perfect.
Jan 9, 2018
her vocal performance is one of the best i've ever heard
Jan 7, 2018*
Hip, hip for the lift! Hip, hip for the drag... ... ...

Added on: April 2, 2012