We had no idea what struck us when we first learned about Fiona Apple. The New York City-born singer-songwriter is unlike any other artist who has come before, and she is also unquestionably ahead of her time.
Many contend that Apple’s music production delays have somehow harmed the promise she had for her career in the late 1990s.
Fiona Apple is in a league of her own, so it’s challenging to understand her attraction. Here, we’ve ranked each of her five studio albums from best to best because they are all historical benchmarks in the field.
1. When the Pawn… (1999)
When The Pawn… once held the record for the longest album title in the world with 444 characters, it is the least impressive accomplishment made by Apple with this album. When the Pawn… was a major commercial success and is regarded by many as one of the greatest albums ever made.
Musical complexity was nothing new for Apple, but in terms of the lyrics, she moved away from her earlier experiments and into more in-depth analyses of relationships, sacrifices, and suffering. She exposed her imperfections and her soul, and it turned out that a lot of people could identify with her.
With sensual ballads like Love Ridden and Get Gone, she finally gave us a true look at who she was. The single that could only have been made by someone with Apple’s brilliance as Fast as You Can.
The album’s standout track, I Know, featured Apple as she sang about infidelity as though the business world had strayed from her. As it appears today, she triumphed, demonstrating that strength is common among people who have the most difficulty in life.
Although When the Pawn… is unquestionably Fiona Apple’s best studio album to date, we think she still has tremendous things in store for us.
2. Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020)
Fiona Apple in her middle age and as a woman is very much appreciated and even more refreshing than we could have ever imagined. The year 2020 saw the release of Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Apple’s fourth studio album. Her sound has completed a full circle, to put it mildly.
On this album, she comes out as having way too much fun, which is good for everyone. Throughout Fetch the Bolt Cutters, there are numerous melodic piano lines that resemble Apple and have captivating hooks. Apple: Did it give in to the demands of commercial success?
We think her maturity and unwavering confidence in her sound and her work are solely responsible. We all want to accompany her on her journey since we can clearly see where she is going.
It’s hardly surprising that Shameika, a song by Fetch the Bolt Cutters, received a Grammy for Best Rock Performance as well as Best Alternative Music Album. With this album, Apple made a clear statement after such a long absence, and we’re delighted she did.
3. Tidal (1996)
The first album by Fiona Apple is right in the middle of this group. This album highlighted the moment when Apple’s brilliance was elevated, even if she was still unfocused and obviously immature at the time.
The record did provide us with some distinctive and enduring masterpieces, albeit whether or not that was good for her career is still up for debate. Criminal is angst-driven and brimming with real personality—after all, she was only a teenager when the album was published.
From the tender song Never Is a Promise to the lighthearted samba style of The First Taste, she displayed versatility. It was expected that the album would reach platinum status after a year, but it also set a high bar for Apple and her subsequent record. Let’s just say that the Grammy winner did not let us down.
4. The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw (2012)
The Idler Wheel… is a challenging and intriguing CD that is entirely acoustic and, to put it mildly, peculiar. We are not yet certain whether or not having complete freedom for Apple is the best thing. Although the tones Apple created for this album are as melancholy as ever, few melodies significantly jump out.
The majority of her songs on The Idler Wheel… age much like excellent wine, even if you have to listen to a song several times to get the spirit of it. We think that Apple is at her best when she is playing her piano alone, as stark as she can be and that she intended to write a collection of songs that is as minimal as her lyrics.
This is said on Hot Knife without apology, and it is disarming to realize just how strong Fiona Apple may be. Ballads like Valentine’s make us think of a visceral Apple quality that sounds more like beauty than agony but appears to be a pain.
5. Extraordinary Machine (2005)
Fiona Apple stands out from the other apples in the orchard for the most part because of this, even though it may be challenging to promote an artist who is not motivated to be commercially viable.
After being delayed for six years because of a record label-related incident, Extraordinary Machine was ultimately released in 2005. A lot of darker undertones in her lyrics lie behind the lighthearted melody of the entire album, even if her music on Extraordinary Machine had obviously matured considerably from her Tidal days.
Although the song with her name on it is arguably the most approachable one here, there are still some levels of rawness that idly peek through in some of her words. The fact that Extraordinary Machine is at the bottom of this list doesn’t mean it has anything to prove to anyone. Under difficult conditions, Apple did her best while yet managing to maintain her character.