We live in a loud world. Walking down any busy street, you’re bound to hear bus brakes hissing, car horns blaring, footsteps plodding, and dogs barking. Where one might be tempted to put in headphones and drown out the noise, Fiona Apple has turned all that noise up and created a modern masterpiece of found percussion, inimitable singing, and some of the greatest songwriting of the 21st century. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is the penultimate postmodern album, a masterclass in how an artist can wring themselves out and lay everything out on a record.
The opening track “I Want You To Love Me” is classic Fiona Apple at her best: a rolling piano line, a delicate melody, and lyrics yearning for love. Then “Shameika” rolls in with a crash. The gliding piano of the previous track is contrasted with a discordant rhythm and is filled with yelps, screams, and throaty vocals. This is the great conceit of Fiona Apple: delicate at times but then crushingly raw all in the same song. “Under the Table” follows a militant drum pattern with lyrics such as “I resent you for presenting your life like a fucking propaganda brochure”. Just when the tension in the song has reached a peak, an impossibly loud cello crashes into the mix. It is euphoric. “Ladies” has some of the most unique melodic phrasing of any song I’ve ever heard. “Heavy Baloon” has some of the most impassioned vocals of the last decade. I could go on and on; every song on Fetch the Bolt Cutters is essential and breathtaking.
In Jenny Holzer’s word art piece Truisms, she lists the mark of genius as being a “sense of timing”. Fetch the Bolt Cutters couldn’t have come at a better time. It is the defining album of the #MeToo era, critical of all the men that have stood in her way for her whole career and sympathetic to all the women who have shared her plight. Somehow, four albums into her decades-long discography, Fiona Apple has found her voice. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is no bullshit and all confidence from one of the greatest songwriters ever to sit behind the piano. Fiona Apple has captured the cultural zeitgeist and given us its defining document. She is insatiable.