A powerful record, one that feels like a seminal moment...

Fiona Apple’s fifth album and her first in eight years ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ has finally arrived, a record lovingly made in her Venice Beach home.

This home setting has made for a unique kind of production, where the walls and the contours of the ceiling make for a much more intimate sense of place. The title track has Fiona Apple guide you around this space, her vocals flow in entrancing poetry as you segue from room to room. Her dogs Mercy, Maddie, Leo and Alfie providing “backing barks”.

The percussion throughout the album is particularly pleasing, from the light taps on the end of a cymbal to the ignition of a kick drum, to stoke the flames of a chorus such as on ‘Cosmonauts’. It always seems reverberate around the spaces of your mind.

The endlessly quotable line, “kick me under the table all you want, I won't shut up” provides the chorus for ‘Under The Table’. The words of an artist who is sick, tired, and uncompromising, refusing to maintain dinner party decorum when offended at the table.

‘Relay’ exposes the damaging consequences of our actions, Apple in full revolt of the bullshit around her, is completely intent on presenting her perception. Not on any social media herself, she takes a swipe at influencer culture with, “I resent you for presenting your life like a fucking propaganda brochure”. We strive for perfection, we follow people out of desire, to constantly compare ourselves with and in the end, it just makes us feel worse than before.

‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ is an ultimately feminist form of art. ‘Ladies’ is an anthem of uplifting one another, women raising each other up and showing support instead of needless animosity. Not allowing men to pit them against each other. Hand claps signify the start of ‘For Her’, Apple joined by a small choir of women harmonising in the back, their voices the only sound occupying an empty space.

Made in the aftermath of Brett Kavanaugh’s court case and him being found not guilty of sexual misconduct, the song is emblematic of the #MeToo movement. The lyrics are not pretty, but that’s the point, ‘For Her’ is a powerful song that re-enforces women’s agency to resist against a patriarchal society.

‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ feels like a seminal moment. Fiona Apple on a career of highs might just have produced her finest work yet. An album that we will surely look to as a cultural text, with its cutting commentary of contemporary culture and its feminist narratives.

9/10

Words: Matthew Pywell

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