Fiona Apple is a critically acclaimed artist who has been involved in music for three decades, and started out with what I believe is still her best record Tidal. “Criminal” is a classic and it still serves as the best track in Apple’s discography. Going into Fetch The Bolt Cutters, her fifth full-length album but first since 2012, it was up-in-the-air on the mindset we would get from her, and the type of sound we would get.
Essentially, Apple on this record is trying to have people accept the accountability of the wrongdoings that they have caused to others. This ranges from having difficult relationships where her partner, or whomever is being discussed, has been cheating, all the way to the most heinous of acts, rape. I don’t mean to get preachy here, but there is going to have to be a point where we can have a healthy dialogue about these acts without it coming to picking sides as to who is telling the truth or lying. It’s always the first thing I see when it becomes talked about on social media, and it rubs me the wrong way. Discussions need to be had about respecting each other’s choices, bodies, and CONSENT, and I’ll leave it at that.
“I Want You to Love Me” kicks off the record, and we have a love song where Apple is just waiting for her partner to love her back. It’s both beautiful, but heartbreaking to listen to, and we hear an older, grittier, but still powerful voice from her.
Led by a very lively piano, “Shameika” is the track that stands out for me on this record as it discusses someone who wasn’t very high on their school’s figurative totem pole, but still had the self-confidence to take those that would bring them down, and while that didn’t always work out, there were people around them that would reassure them of the self-confidence they already had.
“Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is Apple finally freeing herself from a tough situation that she was in her life, hence, the name of the album. Unfortunately, this the first of a few examples where the experimental sounds just don’t connect like they should.
“Under The Table” and “Relay” are very powerful anthems about calling people out for boasting about their societal status, and the ongoing cycle of what happens in an abusive relationship respectively.
“Newspapers” goes with a theme of trying to make yourself heard even when others won’t listen to you. I love the background “woo” vocals and the percussions that sound like the Houston Astros up to the plate in a baseball game.
I’m torn on “Ladies” because I love the message of having women stick together and its sound is the easiest on the ear, almost jazz-like, but that little part with Apple going way up in the register talking about fruit bats is hard to look past. However, the bass line here slaps.
The last highlight on this record is “Cosmonauts” where Apple struggles with the possibility of trying to have a lifetime partner. The hook describes having little to no gravity or issues at the beginning of the relationship, only to continue to be weighted down by gravity as time goes on.
The final three tracks on the record feel like loose ends, and are all short in length, which is unlike the rest of the album. However, on “For Her” the one act that I discussed at the start of this review shows up towards the back end here and the outro is just mesmerizing.
There is a lot to love on Fetch The Bolt Cutters. Apple deserves all the praise for making herself as vulnerable and personal as she does on here. The songwriting is fantastic throughout the record, but there are some experimental sounds that just don’t work for me.
Richest Tracks: “I Want You To Love Me”, “Shameika”, “Under The Table”, “Relay”, “Newspaper”, “Heavy Balloon”, “Cosmonauts”
Worst Track: “Rack of His”
Listen to the album: