Whilst this record is a million miles away from Fiona Apple’s earliest offerings, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is not an illogical procession from 2012’s Idler Wheel. Thematically, FTBC shows Apple looking further back this time: Kate Bush references and tales of playground bullies are intermingled with the expected laments over badly-chosen lovers and angst. Lyrically, she proves once again that she’s very much the 90s songwriter version of a Dorothy Parker poem; “Kick me under the table all you want, I won’t shut up. I wont shut up,” is the refrain in ‘Under the Table’, although my personal favourite is the opening line, “I would beg to disagree but begging disagrees with me,” – a perfect display of Apple-style stoicism that so epitomises our favourite Sullen Girl. The anguished vocals on ‘For Her’ are the tonic for the sweetened trills in ‘Cosmonauts’ making this very much an album that functions as such: a complete body of work.
In an early 90s interview, Apple stated her love for the piano is shaped by its percussive quality and percussion is a key feature in this newest release. Never to be typical, this type of percussion employs hand claps, foot stomps and dog bones, culminating in something that sounds equal parts energetic, cathartic and curious. The structure of these songs is elusive: there’s no formulaic verse- chorus-bridge type predictability, though at times it may feel like you’re being led that way. Enjoy the ride. Think of the word ‘discordant’ in a positive way and enjoy it, because it is technical mastery. The luxurious track ‘Ladies’ is a stand-out. It is a strange concept, to write a song for the future lovers of your lover, and it highlights the genius introspection that makes Fiona so dear, and which makes those long breaks in between her albums so bloody worth it.
Pre-order the Fetch the Bolt Cutters for £11.99 at Rough Trade.
—— Like what you see? Consider supporting us! ———
You can support our independent feminist arts journalism for as little as $1 per month on Patreon: www.patreon.com/artificialwomb