Who is Fiona Apple? This was a popular question in the music community when “Pitchfork” released a review on their website of Fiona Apple’s new album “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” with a perfect score of 10/10. Now in her 40s, Fiona Apple has resurfaced from her 90s popularity with a bold new album that stands as an aggressive feminist manifesto both in language and musical substance.
Recorded in her home over the course of almost eight years, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is a poetic masterpiece hiding under a disjointed cacophony of homemade instruments, complicated rhythms, strange chants and mantras. This album abandons all predispositions on song structure or contemporary melody; beneath its unapproachable and unorthodox sound, it’s a powerful statement of feminine and creative liberation.
The piano and percussion stand out immediately, opening into a strange cadence with Fiona’s lyrics “I’ve waited many years, Every print I left upon the track, Has led me here,” acting almost as a formal introduction to the project. Her delivery is harsh and aggressive. There is little to no voice layering, no reverb effects; just her dry voice laid on top of these unclean instruments as if everything had been recorded in a bathroom on a first take.
What makes it stranger is that every song transitions into the next either with the layers of instruments dismantling themselves or Fiona dismantling her brain and our ears as she shrieks loudly over and over again. My favorite example is right before the second track “Shameika”.
The eponymous track “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” starts with what sounds like spoons banging together and the other instruments slowly layering in giving the song an informal aesthetic. The self-aware lyrical content and bizarre structures continue until my favorite track on the project “Cosmonauts.” While retaining the theme of discordance shared by the other songs, it has the most recognizable structure with distinct verses and choruses; offering a mental respite to the listener. Fittingly though, a few moments throughout the track, the song goes off the rails reflecting Fiona’s thoughts, trailing off onto a tangent and then returning to the topic at hand.
The album keeps up its intensity until the end, and mixed with its provoking lyrics and ear gripping melodies, it displays its aggressiveness without ever slacking. “Fetch The Boltcutters” is the introvert’s statement. The quiet artist has lost their patience and entered into a manic assault of the social guidelines they have quietly abhorred for too long.