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New music this week: Fiona Apple

Peter Mongillo

Fiona Apple

"The Idler Wheel ... "

(Epic)

Fiona Apple rolled around with a bunch of scantily clad young people way back when on MTV, and she hasn't quite left the popular consciousness since. But the singer-songwriter proved, both on her debut and on subsequent albums, that she was much more than a minor scandal on music television.

At once tough as nails and an emotional mess, Apple wields a piano like few others, infusing her dark pop with turns that can owe as much to the Beatles as they do to iconic jazz singers. On her latest, "The Idler Wheel ... ," shortened from "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do," Apple offers a compelling and at times painfully introspective look at human relationships through her eyes.

Lest anyone think she forgot how to do what she does after seven years away from new public work, Apple performs vocal acrobatics, jumping from delicate to loud and louder, low to high, with ease. Lyrically, she pulls off a similar feat, moving from playful to depressed and diabolical and back with ease. Time off has worked in her favor.

Apple just announced tour dates, including a Sept. 20 show at ACL Live. Tickets on sale at 10 a.m. Friday .

— Peter Mongillo

Also out today: Kenny Chesney's "Welcome to the Fishbowl;" Glen Hansard's "Rhythm and Repose;" Men Without Hats' "Love In the Age of War;" The Smashing Pumpkins' "Oceania;" BeBe Winans' "America America;" Justin Bieber's "Believe."