This review has been bubbling inside of me since shortly after it’s release on April 17. I’ve spent all my time in the last three weeks learning about/building
my media empire website, 80% of that time I had this album on repeat in the background. I’ve had the chance to let Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple’s latest, really sink in and resonate. While it may be a little after the fact… a Frissonic album is a Frissonic album.
This is Fiona Apple’s latest release in 8 years and it has been welcomed by her fans, myself included, with open ears and open arms. It’s ferocious and provides for some seriously cathartic yelting (yelling + belting = yelting) moments at a time when you may be finding yourself with a lot to yelt about.
Apple’s previous albums, Tidal (1996), When The Pawn… (1999), Extraordinary Machine (2005), The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Chords Will Serve You…. (2012) have set a standard for passionate, emotional and creative songwriting and storytelling, and Fetch the Boltcutters definitely lives up to it.
Fiona has put out yet another album where I personally feel like she has spent some time in my head and figured out what it is I need to hear or get off my chest. She just knows how express the way I feel about things I didn’t even know I felt. And then, she puts it all into dynamic and catchy songs that I can’t stop listening to/yelting along with.
Have you listened to this album yet? What are your thoughts? Favourite tracks?? Favourite previous songs/albums?? Does it deserve the acclaim it’s been receiving?? Tell me
what you love about your thoughts about Fiona Apple’s music in the comments!
Fetch The Bolt Cutters (2020)
This album was slated to come out later this year, but when Apple recognized the amount of people who might relate to the feeling need to be let free, it became apparent that now is the time for this album.
“I just wanted to release a record in a time when I thought it would have a chance to be listened to. And I’m just so, so happy that it … it seems like it’s actually doing the thing that any artist would want their art to do, which is to help people feel free, especially when they’re not feeling free.”In Her Own Words: Fiona Apple on New Album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” & Acknowledging Indigenous Lands
She uses her big bag of vocal tricks and techniques from dolphin sounds to rippling waves. She gets the listener interested, curious, probably even annoyed. Her vocal range hits high and low, but it also transitions from soothing to desperate to just short of psychotic while telling vivid and emotional stories.
The album is sporadic, yet it has many common themes and elements: it’s whimsical, features barking doggos, powerful homemade percussion and vocal looping. Many of the songs did remind me of her previous albums. Specifically, songs like Hot Knife and Periphery from 2012’s Idler Wheel….
Apple’s songs tell good stories. The most vivid and clear story on this album is narrated in Newspaper, where the singer is watching over the new girlfriend/prey of a predatory and abusive ex-lover. For Her is one of the more powerful and abstract songs on the album. It takes after the style of a gospel sermon and is a wake up call for a nation that suffers under moronic rapists in charge. The lyrics to FTBC and to Ladies, feel like stream of consciousness narratives. When I closed my eyes and listen to the album, it starts out feeling like a slow crawl that works it’s way up to a doddle and then a sprint (or that of someone who has never ran before). By the end of the song, the momentum is pushing you along to get you to where you need to be to let it all out.
What makes it F R I S S O N I C ?
I love the raw feeling of this album – the percussive pieces are homemade, sometimes as simple as clapping and stomping, and yet so so powerful. Apple doesn’t omit moments when her voice cracks or she messes up. It is not a beautifully polished and perfected diamond of an album – it’s rough, rugged, awkward, and not always easy on the ears.
Easy listening is not a category I would ever place this, or any of Apple’s albums under. Many songs are not radio friendly, and even as a long time fan of her music, I didn’t love this album on first listen and it required a few spins to appreciate it the way I do now. I feel that it could be easy for dismiss her music because her songs don’t arrive in pretty little packages.
My final point on this album is less to do with her music, but I love seeing musicians use their voice and their platform to speak to matters that don’t receive enough attention. At the bottom of the tracklist, Apple acknowledges that is was “made on unceded Tongva, Mescalero Apache, and Suma territories”. This is common practice at the start most gatherings – concerts and festivals included, but I don’t think I’ve seen this done on an album (I could be very wrong, I mostly stream or buy LPs of older releases these days. Have you seen an land acknowlegement on an album? Let me know in the comments, please!).
But don’t take my word for it:
Pitchfork gave FTB an elusive 10/10. I love the lyrical comparison they make between Paper Bag on Idler Wheel and Heavy Balloons on FTB. The former being a song about hunger and starvation, to the latter rightfully declaring “…been suckin’ it in for so long and I’m burstin’ at the seems”.
DemocracyNow interviews Apple about the album’s success, her decision to acknowledge the unceded territories on which the album was recorded, and the meanings behind the songs on the album.