sat 20/07/2024

Album: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Album: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Rare bulletin of crafted rawness from LA auteur's personal front line

Fiona Apple simmered in the LA sun for eight years to make this record, mostly holed up at home since her beloved dog died and she stopped drinking. Rather than polish the result to a sleek gleam, this is an album of trailing threads and percussive clatter, layered like unwiped tape.

The brightly shining teenage angst queen of the Nineties continues to rub herself raw, rejecting major label norms, and left alone as Neil Young and Kate Bush are. The title is Gillian Anderson’s sex-crime cop’s demand in The Fall, when a room where a girl has been tortured needs breaking open. Cutters fetched, Apple heads in.

She worked closely with a band while also assembling a vast jigsaw of solitary work. Building on the Waitsian, bone machine percussive sound of The Idler Wheel... (2012), this is the mutant musical offspring of PJ Harvey’s 4-Track Demos and Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. The emotional excavation its combination of abrasion and craft permits is revealed in “I Want You To Love Me”. The classically trained, jazz-loving Apple’s flowing, long piano lines collapse into clamorous chaos, as her bouncing voice becomes a gurgling gasp. “And while I’m in this body...I want what I want, and I want you,” she then insists. Having covered Elvis Costello’s classic of bleeding jealousy, “I Want You”, Apple claims such violent powers for herself.

“Evil Is A Relay Sport” later rejects vengeance, even as impulsiveness is repeatedly hymned, as when she lunges towards a relationship with an ex’s girlfriend in “Newspaper”. “For Her” most clearly contemplates the #MeToo era, referencing the sort of Hollywood decadence Harvey Weinstein might once have attended. But it ends with floating harmonies flying off to somewhere better. Among songs which are both solipsistic and representative, “Under the Table” cuts the sharpest. Voice veering between punctilious diction and boiling threat, just as it elsewhere encompasses dazed murmurs and blues roars, she tells her dinner companion: “Kick me under the table all you want/I won’t shut up.”

The title track cracks open her own past’s very public mausoleum, when she became a sexualised star at 18 and, like the just gone grunge generation, sought her own authenticity. “I grew up in the shoes they told me I could fill/When they came around I would stand real still,” she remembers. “I got the idea I wasn’t real.” But: “I’m still here.” This album turns the sound of panic attacks and partially overcome self-loathing into proudly rigorous art. It’s another step out of the title’s locked room.

This album turns the sound of panic attacks and partially overcome self-loathing into proudly rigorous art


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters