Metascore
89

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Jun 19, 2012
    100
    It's essential 2012 listening for anyone interested in popular music as art.
  2. Jun 19, 2012
    100
    The beauty of The Idler Wheel… is how it transmits each of those feelings in excruciating, frank, and lovely detail.
  3. 100
    It isn't easy listening. But it's worth it.
  4. Jul 18, 2012
    95
    Beguiling and brilliant. [No. 89 p.51]
  5. Jun 19, 2012
    92
    The result is an album that was absolutely worth the seven-year wait, not to mention the mountain of hype atop which Apple has sat since her big comeback at SXSW in March.
  6. An album that's damn catchy after all.
  7. Jul 10, 2012
    90
    With a confectionery of similarly colored assortments, The Idler Wheel... retrenches most of her past output, whether its wistful balladeering or sultry jazz, as a means of expelling a truly uncharacteristic voice.
  8. Jul 2, 2012
    90
    It is perhaps the most unforgettable work of her career.
  9. Jun 22, 2012
    90
    Another singular album from a truly idiosyncratic voice, Apple has once again invited us into her lushly conflicted inner monologue.
  10. Jun 19, 2012
    90
    Apple has been here before, but it makes her new album no less arresting.
  11. Jun 18, 2012
    90
    "Left Alone" is nothing short of a vocal masterclass. It has the singer going from the verses' rap-like cadence to the hook's curlicue jazz stylings to the operatic long notes of the bridge-- notes that slowly curdle underneath their own exasperated weariness.
  12. 90
    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.
  13. Jun 15, 2012
    90
    It is punchy, vibrant, compelling stuff.
  14. Jun 15, 2012
    90
    The Idler Wheel… is a really incredible album, where 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.
  15. Jun 15, 2012
    90
    Stripped of all her carnivalesque accouterments, Fiona Apple remains as rich and compelling as she ever was, perhaps even more so.
  16. Jun 19, 2012
    88
    Her fourth album is arguably her funniest ... but also her leanest and most melodically daring.
  17. Jun 18, 2012
    88
    It makes for a raw, unsettling listen, tempered by shots of dark humor.
  18. Jun 25, 2012
    87
    In The Idler Wheel's ten phenomenal songs, Fiona Apple seems to lay everything out on the table.
  19. Jun 19, 2012
    85
    For all the foot-stomping vitriol that seeps out here and there, The Idler Wheel... is the sound of a brilliant songwriter putting away childish things, and waiting tensely for what comes next.
  20. Jun 19, 2012
    84
    To her immense credit, Apple never flinches at such uneasy insights and insoluble contradictions, which makes The Idler Wheel a tough but rewarding listen.
  21. Handsome almost in spite of itself, The Idler Wheel is poignant, nuanced and quietly unforgettable.
  22. Dec 20, 2012
    80
    It's an album that demands something of the listener, but rewards it in spades.
  23. Jul 16, 2012
    80
    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?
  24. Jul 2, 2012
    80
    It's Apple's refinement as a writer that makes this harrowing psychodrama so gripping. [Aug 2012, p.69]
  25. Jun 26, 2012
    80
    Apple's most ingenious collection of songs to date.
  26. Jun 25, 2012
    80
    It's a hyper-vivid and intensely musical affair that takes us deep inside Apple's skittish, fretful mind. [Jul 2012, p.82]
  27. Jun 25, 2012
    80
    There's no such thing as universal appeal, but The Idler Wheel, despite its brittle sound and frequent fury, is galactic, at the very least.
  28. Jun 19, 2012
    80
    Apple's return to music is not only undeniably powerful, but Idler is arguably her best work yet.
  29. Jun 18, 2012
    80
    The Idler Wheel captures what's made Apple one of the defining artists of her generation: a persona that's reflected changing views of private versus public spheres. The results have often been misunderstood, but Apple has continued to present herself as someone who refuses to resort to niceties of tact or self-censorship when she engages with her audience.
  30. Jun 18, 2012
    80
    The unexpected triumph lies not in the spectacle of the singer raw-dogging her emotions, but in her total command of the anarchy that results.
  31. 80
    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.
  32. 80
    Like an open wound, The Idler Wheel isn't always pretty, but it pulses with life, brutal and true.
  33. Jun 19, 2012
    70
    The Idler Wheel... is a challenging album. The songs are intricately arranged but sonically stark, foregrounding Apple's piano and the stupendous drumming of Charley Drayton. There's not a single big, chewy hook on the album. Sometimes the songs drag... But Apple's kooky energy pushes through the slow spots.
  34. Jul 19, 2012
    67
    Still the same Fiona Apple: bigger than "all the fishes in the sea."
  35. Jun 19, 2012
    60
    Half of the album is magnificent, and stylistically contradistinct, while the other half exists in some offbeat and off-putting terrain that will either elude its listeners, or alienate them.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 206 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 52
  2. Negative: 4 out of 52
  1. Jun 19, 2012
    10
    I say with zero hesitation or exaggeration that this record is a masterpiece. Sometimes when I'm listening to the Idler Wheel I need to get up and punch the air and jump on top of things. I mean, it's an incredibly strong emotional and physical reaction. She has punched me in the gut and I'm still winded. Full Review »
  2. Jun 19, 2012
    10
    This is the first 10 I've give out all year, and the 10 I've been compelled to write about. This magnificent album never ceases to expel beautifully unstable poetry over riveting and compelling songwriting. Fiona has really outdone herself. Waste no more time reading reviews, spend it with this album instead, for it is surely the album of the year (of the apocalypse), if there ever was one. Full Review »
  3. Jun 20, 2012
    10
    Surprisingly much better than I thought it would be, deep lyrics with a impressively low and raw production that still manages to get much emotion across. Well worth your money, I doubt anything this year will be this good. Full Review »