Fiona Apple writes little scripts. The songs on her 1999 breakthrough second album, “When the Pawn … ,” felt to me more like soundtracks to short films than a stand-alone album.
In a way, they were. Apple was then in a relationship with director Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “There Will Be Blood”), who gave four of her videos his signature look: long tracking shots, lingering close-ups, saturated colors. I finally understood Apple’s music better in context of his visuals.
Apple (who just announced October dates at the Lincoln Theatre) made another record, then disappeared until “The Idler Wheel … ” in 2012. The intensity on that record unsettled me, except for the last track, the lilting “Hot Knife.”
Last week, the exes released a video for the song, Anderson’s first in a decade. Apple beats a drum, her and her sister’s vocals loop over the main chorus — sexy, funny and a little threatening: “I’m a hot knife/ He’s a pat of butter.” The camera stares at Apple and she stares back, unwavering.
The video is worth a Moonman (the VMAs are Aug. 25), but it wasn’t out in time for a nom. It’s a shame all this talent gets smashed into a box on the Web.