Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
May 29, 2020
fetch the bolt cutters is one of fiona apple's best works, if not the best. its closest relative in the fiona apple discography is her 2012 "the idler wheel". both albums feature disjointed and experimental instrumentals with an emphasis on percussion. though the percussive elements are way more in-your-face on this album than on idler wheel. but where idler wheel was emotionally intense with it's bitter vocal performances and despondent lyrics, fetch the bolt cutters features much more emotional variety. there are songs where the classic fiona apple virulence is present (for her, newspaper, etc.) along with songs where fiona puts herself in a much more relaxed emotional role, like the song "rack of his" which discusses themes of being used and treated like an object, however fiona portrays a more optimistic outlook on the subject: "And I've been used so many times, I've learned to use myself in kind". another example being the song "ladies" which also has a more optimistic outlook on the world of relationships. i believe the songs message of not letting the fuck-ups of men destroy friendly relationships with other woman is a very intelligent stance, and one that is conveyed very coherently. in my opinion, the more relaxed sentiments and the loose, jam session-y vibe of the instrumentals makes the more emotionally intense moments of the album that more powerful. "for her" is one of the most chilling songs in her entire discography because of this reason, along with just how well made the song is in general.
these moments are only heightened by fiona apple's phenomenal vocals. she definitely is one of those performers where you can tell in the skill of her voice that she's been in the game for a long time. her performances are tight, controlled, and packed with emotions. the vocals on the title track of the album feature a very wordy, almost spoken word like quality. considering fiona is known for her intelligent, sharp, and perceptive lyrics, this is a vibe that suits her very well. the title track also is very introspective, along with the track "shameika" which is a personal favorite of mine. shameika features a very chaotic and almost unsettling piano melody and subtle, thumping drums in the background. the chorus also features the iconic line "Shameika said I had potential" which is super quotable and i will repeat it probably for the rest of time. the feel of this album is a change in pace, in my opinion, from fiona apple's earlier work. where the idler wheel gave off vibes of a tortured artist channeling her piano as a speeding semi-truck, hitting everything that gets in its way, the optimistically introspective tone of the lyrics and the relaxed vibe of the instrumentals makes fiona come off as wise and confident as ever, sometimes even coming off as a mother/teacher figure. though the album can definitely tense up when it needs to.
"under the table" is a song on this album that i feel obligated to mention, considering it is one most unmistakably fiona apple songs of her entire career, and has some of her most empowering lyrics: "Kick me under the table all you want, I won't shut up, I won't shut up".
i feel like my enjoyment of this album is mostly a "right place/right time" kind of thing. this is, to me, the definitive quarantine album, even down to the fact that the whole thing was recorded in fiona's home. i think the defiant and confident lyrics mixed with the themes of shuffling through old memories of school and past relationships (something that i'm also doing currently) makes for a cathartic soundtrack to these uncertain times. i find the album very comforting, in a strange way.
one thing that should not go unspoken of is the production on this album. it's clean but still raw. the strange unruly percussion sounds and the lingering synth-like sounds hanging around in the air of some songs gives this album a very earthly feel.
the lack of structure might be a turn off for some people, i've heard complaints of this album feeling dragged on. i understand but i certainly disagree. the lack of structure is what gives the album an almost improvisational, jam session like quality as i mentioned earlier, a vibe that is unique to fiona's discography and fits really well with her sound. plus, in my opinion the strength of the hooks and melodies on this album make up for the lack of structure, like on the song "relay". it's not going to be something that everyone will gravitate to and it could kill the enjoyment of the album for you.
i do truly believe this album is a 10/10 because every negative i can think of is either a nitpick or works as a positive. some of my favorite tracks that i didn't mention before include "i want you to love me", one of fiona's best opening tracks. the way that piano glides through the track is beautiful and the lyrics like "I've waited many years, Every print I left upon the track has led me here" build up so much justified hype for the album that's about to come. this song is also a very interesting insight on how fiona views writing music and her career and i'm all for it. "cosmonauts" is one of the more structured songs on the album and it has a beautiful build up and wonderful wall of synths carrying the track. "drumset" has a very catchy melody and it's been stuck inside my head since i heard it

Favorite Tracks: I Want You To Love Me, Shameika, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Under the Table, Relay, Ladies, Cosmonauts, Drumset
Least Favorite Tracks: N/A
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May 29, 2020
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