1. "Sleep to Dream"
The album starts with deep beats, like something wicked this way comes. It's a perfect introduction to Fiona Apple, someone who does not mince words or play around. The song is a biting kiss-off, the kind of song you blast when some jerk breaks your heart. An entire relationship's worth of frustration put into verse.
Best bit: "You say love is a hell you cannot bear
And I say gimme mine back and then go there for all I care."
2. "Sullen Girl"
This song is a beautiful doozy. Apple deals with the aftermath of being raped by a stranger when he was 12 and how it caused an identity crisis and a shift in people's perception of her.
"I felt like 'Well, I used to be this really lighthearted person. And I am a lighthearted person, but everyone looks at me and they think I'm really serious and depressed and sullen. Do I come off that way because of this experience?'...So that's when it started getting bad, when people started assuming that things were bad and started labeling me as a sick person.'"
Today, too many stories of women who have survived rape are questioned, scrutinized and ignored, so it's refreshing to hear such an honest proclamation from Apple on the subject almost 20 years ago.
Best bit: "And there's too much going on
But it's calm under the waves, in the blue of my oblivion
Under the waves in the blue of my oblivion."
An ode to a pitfall most of us are familiar with: trying to be friends with an ex. Spoiler: it usually doesn't work out. In Fiona's case, it turned her into a shadowboxer, always on edge, waiting for her ex to make a move and open up old wounds. Lesson: you have enough friends!
Best bit: "Once my lover, now my friend
What a cruel thing to pretend."
The song that launched her career and inspired countless fans to slink around their bedrooms in their underwear. The song is about seeking help for devilish, heartbreaking ways. Iconic.
Best bit: "I've got to make a play
To make my lover stay
So what would an angel say the devil wants to know."
5. "Slow Like Honey"
This slow burn of a song was the first one Fiona wrote for Tidal. The first time I heard that, it made total sense. While not as fully developed as some of the other tracks on the album, it sets the tone and feels like a compass, pointing in the direction she's headed.
Best bit: "Gonna hover over your life
Gonna keep you reaching
When I'm gone like yesterday
When I'm high like heaven
When I'm strong like music."
6. "The First Taste"
You know that feeling when someone is into you, and you are so down, but they refuse to make the first move? So does Fiona. Thanks to the meek and cowardly, we get to have this awesome song and its '90s house party music video.
Best bit: "I do not struggle in your web
Because it was my aim to get caught
But daddy longlegs, I feel that I'm finally growing weary
Of waiting to be consumed by you."
7. "Never Is A Promise"
This one could be about feeling let down by someone or about that moment you realize that someone you thought understood you actually doesn't get you at all. What I know for sure is that I played this song on repeat during much of my freshman year, when I was moodier than ever and feeling wronged by everyone and everything. Oh, memories.
Best bit: "My fever burns me deeper than I've ever shown."
8. "The Child Is Gone"
A loss of innocence has never sounded so good.
Best bit: "Darling, give me your absence tonight
Take the shade from the canvas and leave me the white."
9. "Pale September"
Some of us have built fortresses around ourselves and are always ready to brawl due to past experiences, but then someone comes along and inspires us to drop our arms and call the war off. Aw!
Best bit: "But then he rose, brilliant as the moon in full
And sank in the burrows of my keep
And all my armor falling down, in a pile at my feet."
Sometimes, we stay entangled with someone who is bad for us, but eventually that day comes when we realize they suck and it's time to bounce. Then we write a song or poem about it and title it after the decaying flesh of dead animals. Closure!
Best bit: "My feel for you, boy, is decaying in front of me
Like the carrion of a murdered prey."