Fiona Apple made her long-awaited return to the music industry with her fifth studio album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.”
In the album, Apple’s songwriting is as bold and brash as her previous four critically acclaimed albums. This is Apple’s first album since her 2012 album “The Idler Wheel…,” which garnered her continued praise for her experimentation on songs such as “Hot Knife” and “Every Single Night.”
Apple’s past works all follow a sonic similarity of melancholiness. Take Apple’s last record as an example. Many of the piano-driven tracks evoke a feeling of talking to a close friend or relative about the events surrounding your life.
If Fiona Apple’s albums had to be compared to relatives , “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is the chaotically eccentric aunt who gives you the power to fight against the people who have kept you in a box for years.
Out of the 13 tracks on the album, Apple is the sole writer and composer for all of them except for “Ladies” where she collaborated on the composition with two other musicians. Much of the album is birthed from personal experiences of herself and others.
Thematically, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” revolves around the idea of breaking out of the prison one has chosen to contain themselves in.
The magic of the album comes from its unpolished nature. The dolphin noises Apple makes toward the end of “I Want You To Love Me” and the John Lennon-style vocal screams in “Rack of His” showcases unique transparency into the artist’s quirks. The delivery is imperfect, yet emotive, which the same can be said for life.
Apple sings about middle school bullies in the song “Shameika” and tells the story of her trying to be herself. “I didn’t smile, because a smile always seemed rehearsed,” Apple sings. “I wasn’t afraid of the bullies, and that just made the bullies worse.
The “Criminal” singer remains defiantly herself on other tracks on the album. “Under the Table” shows Apple standing up for herself and speaking her mind. “Kick me under the table all you want,” she sings in the chorus. “I won’t shut up.”
Despite being in the music industry for 23 years, Apple’s songwriting continues to remain sharp, shocking and as relevant as ever in the #MeToo era.
Notably, “For Her” deals with sexual assault and has the line “Good morning’! good mornin’ / You raped me in the same bed your daughter was born in.” Apple herself wrote the song after being frustrated with the nomination hearing of the Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Even though it’s [the line] an awkward thing to say in a song, some people need to say it out loud in order to understand that’s what happened to them,” Apple said in an interview with Vulture. “My hope is that maybe some women and men will be able to single along with that line and allow it to tell the truth for them.”
Each track of “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” feels like a cathartic eruption from the events of the last few years. Apple’s conversational delivery along with the brutally honest lyrics showcase a songwriter’s gift of depicting life at its worse while allowing some humor to be sprinkled along with the mess.
Fiona Apple’s album is the most comforting musical gift society needs in the age of COVID-19. The album provides company during times of isolation and allows our eccentric qualities to become our greatest strengths.