Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Fetch the Bolt Cutters


Aug 18, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

A pioneer of the indie genre as we know it today, songstress Fiona Apple released Fetch the Bolt Cutters back in April and it is her finest work to date.

Apple’s rich voice offers a seductive warning of existential awareness, following passion and impulse with syllables that not only feel tender to the tongue but form meaningful language. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is a meditative series of verses, employing repetition to ingrain the message that we all subsist in a pulse between life and death. Particularly on the title track, Apple makes the listener aware of the space between the body and the cosmos, between the head and the heart. With the lyrics, “Whatever happens/Fetch the bolt cutters, I’ve been here too long,” she places us in a therapeutic realm in which there is no room to settle into comfortability, but rather to engage in honest listening. Her plucky piano pops above a stumbly rhythm and unpredictable percussion, all of which is sparingly underscored by the musique concrète melodies of clanging knives, barking dogs, and a yelping Apple, featured on the opener “I Want You to Love Me.” In “Ladies,” she cleverly inverts words and phrases to subtly attack toxic masculinity and gender norms, encouraging people to speak out for themselves in a time that feels more pertinent than ever.

Existence is a major theme of the album, on a large scale as living, breathing things, but also on a personal level in “Rack of His” as an individual building self-esteem in a world where it’s nearly second nature to compare yourself to others. Apple seems to have found that she is most present when she isn’t trying to be anything, when she is solely submerged in “the pulse.” In her song “Newspaper”—based on the philosophical epigram about a tree falling in a forest—Apple sings, “It’s a shame because you and I did not get a witness.” As if she is talking with her ex-boyfriend’s next girlfriend, Apple recognizes that she exists whether people see her not, and she will not be silenced in fear of judgement anymore. Each song feels like an anecdotal account of a confession or resentment, anthologizing so much of the hatred and anxiety that has dimly burned inside her for far too long. By toying with tempo and range of emotion across the LP, she is persistent but unconventional. Even the jubilation she experiences is a haunted joy, emulating the uncertain serenity of floating underwater on “Heavy Balloon.”

The emphasis of her work is on feeling deeply and no longer pretending, because the moment simply is. In her eerie atmosphere of tongue-in-cheek passes juxtaposed with an attempt to break an abusive cycle, Apple does not put on a show for the listener. It feels as if she made this music for herself, and to complement the sarcastic serendipity that tinges the record, that is just what everyone wanted and truly needed. Guttural, soft, cacophonous, and poetic, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is a reminder of Apple’s genius and that we are all interconnected, one people, existing in a pulse. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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