The Liberation of Fiona Apple

Rumaan Alam at The Nation:

But musically, Fetch astonishes, the work of an artist absolutely confident in the experiment she’s conducting, her objective aligning happily with the listener’s pleasure. This is a true rarity, the artistic advancement that offers joy or surprise or comfort. (I thought of Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns or Björk’s Vespertine or David Bowie’s Station to Station.) The album’s tactics—heavy beats, cut-and-paste vocal play—might frustrate some who prefer Apple’s earlier work, waltzy and cutting.

Apple’s ambition is evident from the opening—Casio drum!—of “I Want You to Love Me.” The jokey beat ripens into a lush cascade of piano, and the admission, “Next year, it’ll be clear, this was only leading me to that, and by that time, I hope that you love me.” It could be the ballad at the center of a Broadway show’s first act, but it is not.

more here.