Fiona Apple Scores A Triumph Via Long Awaited Fifth LP ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters is a triumphant and very well-timed return after an eight-year hiatus. Apple’s fifth album, an introspective, 13 song journey defies genre. Apple sings, raps, plays the piano, dogs bark, there’s a soft meow from an English model, Apple ventures farther into the avant-garde while still staying grounded. That is to say, Apple’s intentions never get lost in the unconventional instruments and voice inflections, in fact, they bring us closer into her world. Her struggles and failures weigh her down, but she triumphs by burning the whole system down and doing it her way.

Coincidently, most of the album was recorded in her Venice Beach home, slated for a release last October, the album was pushed back to April. A pretty lucky release as it mirrors the predicament, we’re in. As we’re all at home, Apple’s album exemplifies the very call for the freedom we don’t have right now but we desperately want. Fetch The Bolt Cutters like its predecessors feature mostly piano ballad tunes backed by guitar, bass, and percussion. Apple is no unfamiliar with the strange and off-kilter, her last album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do was no different. This time, Apple finds herself completely at the helm with a little help from Tchad Blake. Fetch The Bolt Cutters is refreshing in a time of constraint, it is the album for these unprecedented times.

The first track on the album, “I Want You To Love Me” starts with a quirky percussion and synth-based sounds which then swiftly transition into a piano solo. Apple sings, “I‘ve waited many years/Every print I left upon the track/Has led me here” each word seamlessly rolling into the next, almost as if she is rapping.

On the title track, English actress and model, Cara Delevingne meows like a cat, and she is credited with providing background vocals. The duo harmonizes, “Fetch the bolt cutters/I’ve been in here too long” they demand that their current situation must be changed. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is the apex of the Apple’s album, it asks that whatever needs to be changed, must be changed, and if there’s resistance — well, fetch the damn bolt cutters.

“Cosmonauts” finds Apple trying to grasp a monogamous relationship. She frames the song with a bluesy tone and with the memorable first lines, “Your face ignites a fuse to my patience/Whatever you do is gonna be wrong.” The tone shifts when the chorus kicks in, all instruments are stripped away and Apple’s voice trails intimately into a void highlighted by a soft choral hum.

“Ladies, ladies, ladies, ladies” Apple chants on “Ladies” a down-tempo jazzy track. She attempts to assuage harsh feelings women have toward other women especially if they have been with the same man, “And no love is like any other love/So it would be insane to make a comparison with you”. This might be the easiest song to listen to on the album, Apple’s voice is smooth and relaxed as she discourages women being pit up against each other.

Fiona Apple is unapologetically herself. She does things her way, she always has, at the 1997 MTV Music Video Awards she won Best New Artist. She took to the stage, quoted Maya Angelou and said, “This world is bullshit and you shouldn’t model your life on what we think is cool, and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying.” 23 years later Apple invites us once again to challenge what we think we know. Fetch The Bolt Cutters takes many exciting turns. The album exudes freedom, it exudes breaking constraints, it exudes Fiona Apple, and it might just be the album that we look back on when we think back to this COVID-19 era.

 

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