It’s clear that, within the five years of recording, mixing and releasing this album, Fiona Apple has had a lot to ponder. Take even the most timid step into Fetch The Bolt Cutters and you’ll be confronted with a colossal collection of thoughts and observations, some dark, some scathing, some utterly liberating.
This is, after all, a record of total emancipation. Musically, lyrically and conceptually, it launches itself into territory rarely, if ever, experimented with. Replacing Apple’s keys as the sound’s guiding light is an immense array of percussion that produces rhythms of devastating force and considered discipline astutely. Meanwhile, Apple’s voice exemplifies the expressive freedom of the album – there are murmurs, streams-of-consciousness, harmonies and growls fearlessly thrown across the tracks, some heavenly, some beastly.
Providing the mellow moments are songs like ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ and ‘Ladies’ which display an assured restraint to allow the biting commentary of Apple to truly come to fruition. Elsewhere, ‘Shameika’ and ‘For Her’, one of the most incredible arrangements of the century, reveal the more urgent and arresting aspects of the album’s resonance, driven by the incredible diversity of Apple’s vocals.
The over-arching message of the album is clear: fight against the inhibitions, human or abstract, that prevent your growth and independence and own that fight, and within this album you will find a proud declaration of autonomy and originality. To put it bluntly, little in this year’s range of releases comes anywhere near the ingenuity, poeticism and conviction of Fetch The Bolt Cutters.