AOTY 2023
So I was originally gonna write this review for 300 followers, but I’m leaving for Japanese academy today where I won’t be able to use this website or really the internet in general for 3 weeks so I thought I’d make this my last detailed review before I left.

So I’ve explained my history with Fiona Apple before on my review of Tidal, but one thing I forgot to mention was my previous short history with this album. So after checking out Tidal and being a bit disappointed last year, I decided to check out this album, since it was Fiona Apple’s most critically acclaimed album by critics, and I honestly was just weirded out and even more disappointed than I was with Tidal. It was just so odd, her vocals were more weird and riffy, and it was just generally not as pleasing as Tidal despite it not seeming as generic to me as Tidal did at the time (if you read my Tidal review you’ll know my position heavily changed but regardless) and I never really bothered revisiting it until my cousins came over one time and we were taking turns on the aux and my little cousin said she wanted to play her favorite Fiona Apple song and she played “Under the Table” from this album and I was reminded of this album. I couldn’t really hear it that well from the back of the car, but it was overall a much more interesting listen than my first experience with this album and it put it back into my head. Then came late April of this year and I had already listened to When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right and adored it and finally “got” Fiona Apple, and I randomly saw a post on Twitter of some guy on TikTok saying “Fiona Apple is for the guys who *insert thing mildly socially awkward cishet guys do*” and I was like “FIONA APPLE IS NOT FOR THE GUYS!!!” and that reminded me to listen to Fetch the Bolt Cutters cuz I had never really given another chance since I had first listened, so I first checked out The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do to get more of a fuller picture of Fiona’s previous shit in her discog and then finally checked this out again and I was really fucking blown away by the sheer creativity, uniqueness, emotion, and brutal yet relevant social messages in it. I now consider it among my favorite albums of all time so I’ll do a track by track rundown on why I love it so much

It starts with the song I Want You To Love Me, which definitely feels really at home with a lot of her older stuff from her older work, but it feels quite a bit more… interesting. It really shows off the quirks of this album without alienating her strong fans, like with the really odd laughing at the end being a good introduction into this records quirks, as well as the fairly unusual structure, particularly by Fiona Apple standards, but this is really only a taste of what’s to come in terms of experimentation and general oddness on this record. Lyrically, as to be expected from Fiona, it’s fucking fantastic, containing some very meditative and philosophical statements about accepting fate as well as the same demanding attitude in terms of love you can hear from her previous records. Vocally, I’d say it contains one of her strongest performances in terms of pure emotional expression. I would say this whole record is very strong in that department, it may not be the most traditionally pleasing (although it most certainly has moments of that, particularly in this song) but it’s incredibly powerful and passionate, and let’s be real, we all come to Fiona vocally for her passion

Next we have the track Shameika, which I think is where the record really starts to show off it’s oddness, with the constant change ups, extremely odd sounds in the background that only increase as the song goes on. It’s mainly built on this amazing piano chord that I simply find to sound very chaotic but very addictive, it’s probably the most replayable track on the whole album, because despite it introducing a lot of the sonic oddities of this record, it still remains an addictive and accessible song. Lyrically it focuses on a time when Fiona was being laughed at by the girls she was trying to sit with at lunch and then a girl named Shameika came up and said “Why are you trying to sit with them? You have potential” which really made her think and by the end of the song she accepts the mean comments from others as positives about herself rather than negatives. It’s a really sweet story that really helps you see how Fiona developed as a person throughout her life, even at a young age, and sonically it maintains a fantastic balance between experimental and accessible

Next we have the title track Fetch the Bolt Cutters, which is a line from a show iirc which basically means “get yourself out of whatever fucked situation you’re in”. The track is when I’d say this album becomes quite a bit less accessible for those who were into the style of the previous 2, but obviously I would not love this album as much as I do if I didn’t like this track. It has this sorta “pots and pans” percussion that will be seen on several other songs on here, and it feels really raw and unedited, like she even left her dog’s barking in at the end. Lyrically it’s mainly focusing about getting yourself out of situations you don’t wanna be in, like the title suggests, but she also talks about a failed half-friendship and her previous negative experiences with the media earlier in her career (particularly in the Tidal era) and it’s really just such a fucking unique and fascinating track

Next is the song I mentioned earlier which I heard again before I first relistened to this album because my cousin played it in the car on the aux, Under the Table. It’s a very blunt track lyrically, and she really has the energy for this bluntness vocally. It’s just super fun to sing along to “KICK ME UNDER THE TABLE ALL YOU WANT, I WON'T SHUT UP!” and it really gets crazy when she layers her vocals of her screaming "I WOULD BEG TO DISAGREE BUT BEGGING DISAGREES WITH ME" over themselves several times along with just the general sonic craziness going on in the background. It just really has such an unmatched energy, sonically and vocally, and it's really memorable and quite catchy

Next we have Relay. This track really has this interesting energy to it, that is frequently described as almost ritualistic. It's mainly built on a poem the young Fiona apple wrote "evil is a relay sport when the one who's burned turns to pass the torch" and it's very rhythmic and interesting structurally. Obviously the main metaphor is pretty easy to dissect in meaning, there are many other parts to this song lyrically though, such as the lines about resentment and particularly the "I resent you presenting your life like a fucking propaganda brochure" which can easily be interpreted as a criticism of how social media is used. It then ends with this really light beautiful singing and you'll start to wonder "how tf did the track get to here?" which is honestly a question I like to ask on a lot of the songs here. It's just a very interesting thing to see

Next is Rack of His, which ngl is one banger of a name lmao. This track is just really filled to the brim with quirkiness sonically. There's honestly not much to really even say to describe it, it's just really fucking weird sounding, and Fiona's performance is as chaotically passionate as ever. I also love how she turns the objectifying misogynistic phrase "check out that rack of hers" on its head and uses it to describe her sexual desire towards a man. How does it feel now HUH?

Next we have a very brutal track lyrically, Newspaper. It's about Fiona connecting with another victim of the same abusive guy. Vocally it contains one of her most powerful performances on the entire record, particularly on the chorus where she's like "AND YOU'RE WEARING TIME LIKE A FLOWERY CROWN" and many people don't like this track for that reason cuz they don't care as much for her vocals here as I said before, but personally I just think they're so powerful, particularly in combination with the theme of this song. It's also hard to tell when one thing or another is gonna happen due to the general unorthodox structure on here. Sonically, you could probably call it the most grand track on the record (although it's not TOO too grand) and I really think it makes this track stand out. It's just a brutal track lyrically and a very powerful track sonically

Next is possibly the weirdest sounding song on the entire album, and if you've been reading this review up to this point then you'll know that's a pretty high standard considering just how weird some of these tracks can get. I'd say probably what makes it sound really weird is her weird, almost deranged sounding repetition of the word "ladies" throughout the song. I think this is supposed to be from the perspective of this scummy man with like a bajillion exes, and I think it's said in this way to be like "wow, look at all of these craaazzy ladies" almost like he doesn't give a shit about any of them. Fiona also discusses how men like this will frequently pit women against each other, like how they make you resent the woman he cheated on you for rather than him for cheating on you. Definitely a very important message, and despite it being really fucking weird sonically, I think it has a certain charm to it that really grows on you

Next is Heavy Balloon. It's a song about depression and how you feel like you constantly have to keep it off yourself. Sonically it's a pretty jazzy sounding and also darker sounding track. I think this works very well given the themes of it. I think the metaphor of a heavy balloon is a fucking amazing metaphor for depression, and her performance is once again very passionate. Just another fucking fantastic track on this album

Next we have Cosmonauts. Every time I listen to the start of this track I'm always like "wait, what song on the album is this?" just because the start is so different from the entire rest of the song, and by the end she completely goes off the rails screaming "START IT OFF, START IT OFF, START IT OFF, BABY", it truly just demonstrates how far one song on this album can go in terms of structure. Lyrically, it focuses on the difficulties of maintaining a long term monogamous relationship for some people, particularly people who aren't really meant for it. Just another beyond interesting and amazing song on here, and definitely a standout in terms of structure

Next we have easily my favorite track on the entire album, For Her. Jesus fucking Christ is this track brutal lyrically. Hearing just what the man being talked about in this song is doing to his wife is just awful and the line "you raped me in the same bed your daughter was born in" just hits like a ton of bricks every single fucking time. It's not just a standout track lyrically though, it's also incredible sonically. It has these really beautiful vocal harmonies that sorta remind me of Hot Knife in a way? But don't think this song is a repeat of that song cuz its other aspects are also very standout. The percussion is as chaotic as usual and then so, and there are so many structurally jarring switch ups in this song and they all actually work really well despite being so jarring if you get what I mean. It's truly a demonstration of everything this album does so well, both lyrically and sonically, and vocally it's easily the most pleasant sounding on the album, although lyrically it's really fucking brutal. This is seriously such an amazing song, Fantano should be sent to prison for saying it's the worst on the album smh

Next is the track Drumset, which is probably a pretty conventional sounding track as far as this album goes, but that doesn't make it any less amazing. Lyrically it's about this time after a misunderstanding when Fiona thought her band was pissed at her and leaving her after she got into an argument with them after she had a break up which left her feeling as if everyone was gonna leave her, including her band, when that just wasn't the case. It's really simple lyrically because she actually wrote the lyrics right after it happened and they never changed since then. It's very fun to follow along with the drum patterns and vocals, which are both synced in an extremely satisfying way

Finalky, we have the track On I Go. It has the same ritualistic feel of Relay, but it's less melodic at the start, before these nice harmonies are added in the background throughout the track. Apparently it was a chant she made I'm when she was in jail for marijuana possession to calm herself down, and honestly it is quite an addictive chant so I can understand that. It's got the same "pots and pans" percussion as a lot of other songs on here and it's definitely quite crazy, and I think it ends really explosively, for such a great album

Overall, this album is just so fucking unique and creative, it's truly unlike anything I've ever heard. Of course you can find some of these ideas on other albums my other artists, and you can even see where many of these ideas came from by listening to Fiona's earlier discography, but a combination of all of these sounds executed so well? That's completely unheard of. I can see why a lot of people think this is overrated, especially seeing that it's SOO fucking highly rated by critics and expecting the most grand, epic art pop album ever only to get some of the weirdest shit known to man, thus dismissing it as "pretentious critic core" but it's this records weird aspects that make it so great. It's just such a dense, powerful, and creative album that only grows on me with repeated listens as I see new things I hadn't even seen about it before every time.

Sorry this review isn't as detailed as it could be, I really had to rush here, I could've probably written a few paragraphs about every song, but regardless I'm glad I get to get this review out right before I leave for the next 3 weeks. Bye everyone, hope you liked the review, and please tell me about what I've missed out on musically when I get back!

Track Ratings
1I Want You To Love Me / 100
2Shameika / 100
3Fetch the Bolt Cutters / 100
4Under the Table / 100
5Relay / 100
6Rack of His / 100
7Newspaper / 100
8Ladies / 100
9Heavy Balloon / 100
10Cosmonauts / 100
11For Her / 100
12Drumset / 100
13On I Go / 100
Irissssssssssss's Tags
beautiful review
Amazing review, I agree completely and you put it wayyy better than I coulda put it.
@Harmony thank you

@JohnnyBear thank you, I tried hard to crank out my most accurate feelings in the short timeframe I had to write this
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