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Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Album Review)

Friday, 24 April 2020 Written by Spencer Lawes

Fiona Apple’s fifth album, ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’, is the perfect lockdown gift. Each of its 13 tracks require time to unwrap, providing precisely what we need in these strange, uncertain times. This is a thrilling hour of music bursting at the seams with raw emotion, compositional brilliance and deft humour.

In a world dominated by the power of singles, here is an album for album lovers. Every song has earned its inclusion, and the ensemble is dotted with memorable, shocking moments. There are sections that claw at our attention due to their oddness, and yet nothing is done simply for effect.

Apple addresses a wide range of topics, from a message to future partners of a toxic ex-lover on Ladies, to not being silenced at a dinner party on Under the Table, which peaks with the line: “That fancy wine can’t put this fire out.”

The LP’s thematic load is weighty and, apparently addressing this fact, Apple chooses to end many of its songs with much-needed breathers in the form of long, minimalistic outros.

At times, ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ feels as intimate as an acoustic set in a cosy jazz café, especially as riffy vocals take hold on I Want You To Love Me and the title track. Other moments feel like calls to arms, and it’s easy to imagine mass-gatherings chanting Relay’s refrain: “Evil is a relay sport when the one who's burned turns to pass the torch.” Apple manages to retain cohesion despite the disparity of sounds, and continues to cram the record with lines crying out to be jotted down or, better yet, plastered across bedroom walls.

Every track has at least one totally unique passage, and it’s this sonic diversity that will have us repeatedly coming back for more, approaching the music from different angles and investigating them on their own terms. That might be the greatest of Apple’s achievements here—plugging excitement and playfulness back into listening to music.

‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ is an ever-evolving beast that constantly surprises as the layers of complexity peel away with time and familiarity. This is the ideal time to give it the attention it deserves, and that investment will ensure that everyone’s relationship with it is different. This is music that will inspire passion, conversation and engagement.


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