Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Pop and Rock, Part Two Page 6

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:Pop and Rock, Part Two
5. Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw & Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

It's been seven years since Fiona Apple has released an album, so not only was this year's return highly anticipated, but it was well worth the wait. In true Fiona fashion, the album title is as abstract and emotionally unedited as we remember the singer-songwriter to be: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is definitely a mouthful, but that's just a primer. Idler Wheel is a stripped-down acoustic album that bares all of Apple's rawest feelings, allowing the pain to come in, "like a second skeleton," as she so aptly reveals on opening track, "Every Single Night." Apple's erratic smorgasbord of feelings is finely distilled in every track and her sharp words cut through like a knife that's been sharpened for quite some time. As much as Apple's brilliantly crafted lyrics are aimed at exes who have wronged her — like on "Regret," when her voice maliciously rips through the line "I ran out of white doves' feathers to soak up the hot piss that comes from your mouth every time you address me" — her wildly melodramatic lines are turned around and directed at herself as well. On "Daredevil", she admits to needing a chaperone to protect her from herself and she rationalizes, "How can I ask anyone to love me when all I do is beg to be left alone," on "Left Alone." Apple's bare bones approach is anything but simplistic and is some of the strongest work we've seen this year, from her or anyone who's ever suffered from a broken heart.
Melody Lau

4. Japandroids
Celebration Rock

There's not a single moment of hesitation across the eight tracks and 35 minutes of Japandroids' sophomore album; hesitation is a marker of uncertainty, immaturity. While the Vancouver-based duo uses Celebration Rock as a remembrance of youth, it's delivered from two grown men who found a way to capture those momentous moments with maturity and insight — a rare feat. And they do it without losing an ounce of energy that made their debut such a joy. Vocals nearly shouting every word, backing "oohs" and "yeah yeah yeahs" that are simultaneously fierce and melodious, and unrelenting beats underscore an urgency to not forget one's formative past. The album ends in a way that most can only hope for — with perhaps the best single of the year in "The House That Heaven Built," a song that never slows from its frenetic pace; and "Continuous Thunder," a beautiful closing track to their opus that looks at love, relationships and the questions and fears that are birthed from these two monumental life forces. Celebration Rock is as much a time capsule of the past as it is a Dead Poets Society-esque "seize the day" manifesto.
Travis Persaud

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