‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ is Fiona Apple at her strongest


Illustration by Marissa Haas.

Fiona Apple’s “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” has such personal, singular lyrical content able to universally tug at listeners’ emotions effortlessly. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is an open, messy look into Apple that is like nothing else ever created. 

Apple has always put out great albums that speak about relatable emotions otherwise not talked about in music. Where her older music may dwell on and shame these negative feelings, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” focuses on embracing all parts of oneself, both good and bad. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters,” as Apple has mentioned in interviews, is telling people to literally fetch their bolt cutters and free themselves of whatever negative situation they are in.

Apple came on the scene when she was only 18, so it makes sense for some of her lyrical themes and viewpoints to change now that she is 42. Even though she has always been true to herself and a brilliant musician, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” shows how much she was still able to grow. There is this direct, almost unsettling lyricism on songs like “For Her” and “Relay” that show Apple’s desire to address abusers in an empowering manner.

What makes “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” so different is its purposeful messiness. In an age where nearly all music has a digital sheen to it, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” creates this intimate setting with flubbed adlibs, Apple’s barking dogs and direct lyricism. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” has an incredibly effortless sense of coolness and self-awareness that only Apple could pull off. Every track is so personal and speaks in such a raw, unfiltered manner that this album feels almost like a peak in Apple’s diary. 

“Shameika” is a very unusual track in terms of its lyrical content, but it is still so relatable. On “Shameika,” Apple recalls her time in grade school when a girl she barely remembers told her not to waste her time with bad people. The sense of fun that comes off Apple’s voice as she repeats “Shameika said I had potential” relates to every person who has hung onto a single complimentary phrase from an unmemorable person that you met years ago.

Empowerment and self growth are central themes to this album. “Heavy Balloon” has Apple comparing depression to a heavy balloon that bursts out into declarations of “I spread like strawberries! I climb like beans and greens!” Apple’s uplifting chants while describing the lifelessness brought on by depression make for a soul-filled, touching-yet-not corny track.

The album’s title track, which Apple actually stated was not even written until the album had already been finished, creates this intimate feeling of Apple singing directly to you. Accompanied by her model friend, Cara Delevingne, on the chorus, Apple tells herself and listeners to get out of whatever bad scenario they find themselves in. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” tells you that your goals are achievable and your freedom is in sight, you just have to work for it. 

Joy and happiness beam off this album even with the first track, “I Want You to Love Me.” There is almost this desperation as Apple basically begs to be loved, but in such a joyful way, stemming from a desire to present her growth rather than an obsession over someone.

With Apple’s vocal quirks, raw lyricism, experimental instrumentation and general lack of caring what others think, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” comes together as an album that is representative of how much one person can grow and learn to embrace themselves. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is pure Fiona Apple with its poetic lyricism, pianos and acoustic drums, but also unlike anything she has ever done. Apple is here to say that now is the time to go fetch those bolt cutters.