Review: Fiona Apple, When the Pawn

Fiona’s pissed and it’s captivating, but it also demonstrates the limits of the singer's self-loathing.

Fiona Apple, When the PawnThe frenetic rhythms and incisive lyrics of “Fast as You Can,” the first single from Fiona Apple’s sophomore effort, When the Pawn…, were beyond anything being played on MTV at the time: “My pretty mouth will frame the phrases that will disprove your faith in man,” the singer quips. Apple’s creative lyrical prowess is further showcased on tracks like “Get Gone” (in which she punches powerful one-liners like “Put away that meat you’re selling”) and the drum fill-filled “Limp” (“You fondle my trigger, then you blame my gun…It won’t be long before you’re lying limp in your own hand”). She’s pissed and it’s admittedly captivating. On the other hand, the repetitive opening track, “On the Bound,” sounds like one of the more listenable tracks from Scott Weiland’s solo album, while “Love Ridden” is the closest to hope that Apple ever gets (“I want your warm, but it will only make me colder when it’s over”). “A Mistake” feels like “Criminal” redux and “Paper Bag” demonstrates the limits of Apple’s self-loathing.

 Label: Epic  Release Date: November 9, 1999  Buy: Amazon

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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