Okay. That's a lame title. None the less, most of the people who read my blog know already that Fiona Apple's new album comes out next week and that it's been pre-released on MySpace.com.
Having been listening to the pirated unreleased version of the album for about a month (that's right. I'm a pirate), it's a very interesting experience to listen to the finished versions of these songs. As I told Manda yesterday, it's an odd feeling to sing along to a new album upon first listening.
So, I thought I'd jot down my thoughts on the new tracks in case anyone is interested. As with all of her other material, I highly recommend taking a good close listen to this album. Without a doubt, I think Fiona Apple is the best lyricist around these days. There is such an incredible wit and wisdom to her lyrics, and such a heart-wrenchingly bittersweet honesty to everything. She has a way of writing that makes me feel as though my own version of similar emotions equate to little more than 7th grade sad girl poetry by comparison.
Anyway, the first track I heard of her new stuff was the title track, Extraordinary Machine. I'm thrilled to find that they've decided to go with it as the first track on the new album. It's fun; plain and simple. The arrangement is the same, much to my happy surprise. As far as I can tell, the sole difference is in the EQ of the tracks (the cellos and basses particularly have less pluck and more boom than the original).
Unfortunately, Get Him Back (track 2) has been retouched and it's production varied from the original version. I find that it's one of only two songs on the album that I don't like the new version. Disappointingly, this was also one of my favorite tracks on the pirated album. Now I find that I'm disinterested in the new version. Largely it has to do with the production work behind the last verse. There's this wash of George Martin-esque instrument fragments that just seem to overpower everything. The vocal seems to drown behind synths, reversed audio files, and some annoying little piano snippet that nags for attention like a gnat.
After that's O Sailor, and I must say, I didn't like the new version the first time I heard it, but I really do now. I don't know what it is I objected to at first; but the new one gets a big stamp of approval from me. I like the upped tempo and I love the sing-songy backing vocals at the end of the track. Initially, they were one of the biggest things I didn't like about the track (that and I missed the string arrangement of the original). It was the first track that I've ever heard her overdubbing vocals on and it bugged me. Now, however, I like it and think it's a great end cap for the tune. So, go figure.
I just deleted everything I was saying about Better Version of Me, track 4. I was saying "I really like it. It's so different." But, you know what? 1.) It's not all that different, 2.) I like the original better. : / I didn't think that was the case until I A/Bed them side by side. I'm not as much of a fan of the sax ensemble in the new one at the expense of the cool Mellotron flutes in the original. Oh well.
Tymps is the track that the pirated versions seemed to name Used To Love Him. It's pretty different. Less swanky, a little more hip-hop. Interestingly, I never really noticed the lyrics on the original version but was instantly aware of them on the remake. I like the new one. In almost all respects I think it's a great reinvention of the track. There's some very cool mandolin work that comes in briefly after the first chorus. The vocal works extraordinarily well with the new percussive nature of the backing tracks. Cool stuff.
Parting Gift is the only all new track and it's beautiful. Piana, vox, beautiful melody and lyrics - can't go wrong. It's the kind of track that makes me feel like it was written to go on vinyl. This is the perfect track to end side one.
And with that, I'll wrap up Side One of my thoughts on this stuff and leave the rest for later. Otherwise, this'll be way too long.