Sony (unreleased), 2003
REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/13/2005
Fiona Apple is the current favorite "artist in captivity" on Internet sites because of Sony's refusal to release Extraordinary Machine. The album has been completed for almost two years. The leaked response from Sony apparently cited the album's lack of a hit single as the reason for not releasing the album. As a result, her Sony artist Web site doesn't look like it's been updated since 1999, when she released her last album, When the Pawn...
Extraordinary Machine hasn't been released, but now it's all over the Internet. It's been downloaded more than 30,000 times at last count. And Fiona's fans have launched an effective campaign to get Sony to release Extraordinary Machine.
Now, before you start yelling " Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," there are some differences. Sony still wants to salvage a relationship with Fiona Apple (whereas Wilco was dropped by their label). Extraordinary Machine is a good album, but I would not rank it up as one of the top albums of the decade like Foxtrot.
Still, you can't help but wonder how dense the management is over at Sony. They're afraid that the album is not going to sell, but Sony also carries other artists whose sales are lucky to land in the hundreds of thousands of copies (be it underrated artists, such as Ben Folds, or destined for discount bin status artists, such as Bow Wow). Management claims the album doesn't have a hit single, but why the hell is it that Tori Amos was able to release her near-80-minute opus, The Beekeeper; an album whose songs have yet to stick in my head?
If you want a hit single, I can already pick out three on Extraordinary Machine. It may not be a hit like a Neptunes-produced song, but the skipping beat and John Brion's orchestration give the song "Better Version of Me" an equal dose of muscle and bubblegum. The same could be said for "Get Him Back" -- a modern-day "These Boots Are Made For Walking." Some songs are memorable, but memorable as in slightly annoying, such as the Danny Elfman-esque goth marching beat of "Used to Love Him."
Does Sony have a point? Hell no. But because most people will have to Frankenstein-stitch this album together, Extraordinary Machine sounds disjointed and in need of some final production touches. Even if you receive the entire album in one download, Extraordinary Machine seems like a dish that could use about ten more minutes in the oven before it's finished. However, the best compliment I can give to the album is that if it's released, it's worth the purchase to include in your CD tower.