This week on Tracking––a weekly series in which we discuss our favorite songs of the year (you can check out the official list as the year progresses)––you can listen to additions from Animal Collective, Fiona Apple, Jai Paul, Twin Shadow and Grimes. (Click on the arrows to navigate through the songs.)
Fiona Apple: “Every Single Night” (2 of 5)
Almost seven years after Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple is back with an unassuming, virtuosic, and disturbing single. If you take “Every Single Night” as Apple’s version of a “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” assignment, we can surmise that her artistry has reached an apex, along with her anxieties. On “Every Single Night,” Apple’s thoughts (“white-flamed butterflies in my brain”) turn her stomach and then spawn an evil twin. Mind and emotion turn to flesh and then go to war. Her mind is the enemy, and Apple roots for her desires: “I just want to feel everything,” she sings again and again. She invites her twin to dinner. Her heart is the main course, an omelette for the two to choke on. Mutually assured destruction.
Extraordinary Machine opened with a title track pruned to bonsai spareness. The Idler Wheel… begins with “Every Single Night,” equally exacting and elegant but packing an atomic wallop. Apple whispers and wails with skeletal support: a brushed snare drum, a standup bass heartbeat, some cymbal taps, rolling tom fills, and precious toy-piano tinkles. Its dramatic moments (her battles with her brain) are heightened by little more than Apple’s vocals, doubled into a BOOM.
Fiona Apple’s return warrants parades and cannon fire. And we get it, in her own way, with a deceptively simple yet devastating lullaby, sung into a mirror. –– Peter Tabakis