A long, long time ago a now deceased comedian called Bill Hicks talked about the way in which capitalism turns emotions into measurable, exploitable assets, foretelling how men in their Silicon Valley hideouts and Brooklyn lofts would commodify feelings into something from which profit can be turned.
Fiona Apple emerged as a teenager into the unwanted limelight with Tidal, a debut album released in 1997 which sold nearly three million copies. In possession of a voice aged well beyond her years and a sensibility which kicked against the pricks, it wasn’t unexpected when her apparent lack of being awestruck was turned into an image to be ruthlessly marketed by people who knew what people bought.
Fetch The Bolt Cutters is the fifth album of a career which has seen Apple gradually recede into the twilight, living almost hermit-like in her Venice Beach home and collaborating with an ever decreasing circle of musicians. That this sort of chosen solitude has made for such a forthright album shouldn’t perhaps be a surprise, that it manages to toe the line between turbulent musicality and a withering view of both sexes however was a far less predictable outcome.
The songs here are frequently jumbled up ideas, pieced together from snippets of jazz, blues, hip hop, Laurel Canyon AOR and a dozen other sources: appropriately, Apple’s voice chirps, hollers and schmoozes depending on mood. At times the ride is draining but Fetch The Bolt Cutters is a record – in meta at least – unlike almost any other you’ll listen to this year, growling fiercely at conventions of what’s taboo lyrically. You won’t know how to feel about it, but that in itself is one of the most liberating feelings of all. Just ask Bill.
You can read the full review here.