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Music Review: “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple | Photo by vulture.com | The Wright State Guardian


American singer-songwriter Fiona Apple released her fifth studio album, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” on April 17 to widespread acclaim, with many reviewers declaring it her best work yet.

The album is supported by one single: “Shameika.” This is a very raw, experimental record, leading to some sonically intriguing but forgettable songs. Apple keeps her style away from a typical American pop or rock song to deliver a product that I’d call very unique, and I say that in a positive tone.

Highlights

1. “I Want You to Love Me”

A strong album opener, the piano on this track coupled with Apple’s gritty vocals really help to sell her desire in wanting someone to, of course, love her. It also transitions very well into “Shameika.” That transition might sound odd at first, but it works out in the end.

2. “Ladies”

Apple’s talk-singing in this track and her higher notes, along with the mellow tone it provides, explores the ideal of female power.

3. “Cosmonauts”

Originally recorded for the comedy film “This Is 40” but not used, this song contains a strange but genuinely interesting percussion introduction that continues throughout the track. Later, lovely harmonies show up in the chorus and make the song a really interesting listening experience.

Background

Apple was classically trained in piano as a child, and began writing songs when she was eight years old. She was signed to a record deal with Sony Music in 1994 after giving a demo tape to a friend who worked for music publicist Kathryn Schenker.

After releasing “Tidal,” her debut album, in 1996, she received the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. However, her acceptance speech was criticized.

“When The Pawn…,” her second studio album, was released in 1999 to positive reception from critics. Her next release, “Extraordinary Machine,” came out in 2005.

Apple had redone the project she had originally worked on with producer Jon Brion, as she was unhappy with the finished product. Seven years later, her next studio album, “The Idler Wheel…” was released to rave reviews.

The title for this project comes from a quote by Gillian Anderson’s character in the British-Irish drama series “The Fall.”

Much of the album was recorded in Apple’s home studio, with certain found objects being used as percussion instruments. These include the bones of her deceased dog and a metal butterfly.

“Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” to me, is an example of beautiful chaos. The album isn’t too refined, but the way every instrument and vocal comes together is something to behold.

Hopefully, this isn’t the last album we hear from Apple. The style of humor she showcases on this record, coupled with odd but satisfying musical moments, is a marvelous concept even if it needs to be executed a little better.