Fiona Apple Encourges Us All To “Fetch The Bolt Cutters”

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Fiona Apple’s new album, “Fetch the Bolt Cutter” was released on April 17. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Spencer Quinn, Contributing Writer

 Oh Fiona Apple, you couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Just last week on April 17, the beloved, yet elusive singer-songwriter and pianist released her much anticipated fifth record, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters,” eight years after her last release, “The Idler Wheel.” Apple recorded the entirety of this new album from her home in Venice Beach, with backup vocals from friends such as supermodel Cara Delevingne, and even appearances from Apple’s five dogs: Mercy, Maddie, Leo, Little and Alfie. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is years in the making and features 13 tracks that address bullying, abuse and love in a more personal manner than Apple has ever done before. I was delighted to hear that the title itself, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters,” derives from the 2013 British psychological thriller “The Fall.” As a huge Gillian Anderson fan, I devoured all three seasons of the show, and I would’ve never guessed it would end up as the inspiration for a Fiona Apple album. 

The first time I listened to Apple I was probably around 16, and I was just discovering my own anger for the first time, unsure of where to put it or what to do with it. I remember listening to her hit debut album, “Tidal” (1996), and thinking about how powerful it was. There was something I could connect to a young girl at just 19 years old feeling fed up with the world and sometimes even hopeless about her future. Before doing research on any of the songs on the album, I decided to record my thoughts, feelings, and opinions on five of the tracks, highlighting my favorites. 

  1. “I Want You To Love Me” 

As the opening track on the album, “I Want You To Love Me” begins as a beautiful piano melody, with an enchanting and underlying serious tone. Apple coos, “I’ve waited many years, every print I left upon the track, has led me here,” which feels like the perfect way to mark this new era. She sings softly at first, almost in a soothing manner. However, it’s not long until Apple’s signature anger and grit arise as she growls, “And I know none of this will matter in the long run.” But she wants what she wants. Apple seems to have a fierce confidence on this first track, almost challenging whoever she may be addressing in this song. The ballad ends with her manically shrieking, almost as if she’s spinning out of control. If this song sticks with you, I would recommend the likes of Regina Spektor or Anna McClellan, two ladies whose use of language and piano tell a story in their music. 

  1. “Shameika”

“Shameika” begins a bit frantically, immediately bringing us into the story of Apple’s school days as a young girl when she was bullied. An intense energy builds, and we’re not quite sure what to expect. She breaks into the chorus repeating, “Shameika said I had potential,” followed by three triumphant piano chords. This is followed by an overwhelming cacophonous buzz that sounds reminiscent of teasing school children. This tune often feels as if Apple is challenging us to keep up with her. This song is a whirlwind — you can get caught up in it and jump on board if you can keep up. She knows her worth, and Shameika knew it too — this girl seems to have awoken something in Apple. She ends the song by deciding, “And when the fall is torrential, I’ll recall” … Shameika said she had potential.  

  1. “Fetch The Bolt Cutters”

As the title track of the album, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” was much anticipated and did not disappoint. The song begins with pots and pans clanging, audibly recorded in Apple’s own home. Apple sings of being hurt and feeling ashamed of what she let be done to her but promising that this narrative will no longer occur. “Fetch the bolt cutters, I’ve been in here too long.” The message behind this simple but effective phrase is clear. This song is about empowerment and change. Apple describes it as “breaking out of whatever prison you’ve allowed yourself to live in, whether you built that prison for yourself or whether it was built around you and you just accepted it.” 

  1. “Ladies”

“Ladies” begins in an almost sensual and seductive manner as Apple repeats, “ladies, ladies,   ladies.” However, Apple brings us into a much more serious cycle of women being used by the same men and yet becoming pitted against one another. The central theme of the song reminds us, “Nobody can replace anybody else, so it would be a shame to make it a competition / And no love is like any other love, so it would be insane to make a comparison with you.” I teared up listening to this song for the first time because it feels like a reminder we could all use. This song reads as uplifting and healing blues. 

  1. “Cosmonauts”

“Cosmonauts” seems to tell the story of the fear of letting someone in and becoming dependent on them. Apple sings, “When I met you, I was fine with my nothing / I grew with you and now I’ve changed,” describing the way one might break the protection you create around yourself for the sake of love. She warns, “What I’ve become is something I can’t be without your loving, be good to me, it isn’t a game,” explaining that letting someone in isn’t something to be played around with. “Because I only like the way I look when looking through your eyes.” That’s the fear of letting someone in and becoming dependent on them. The end of the song explodes into Apple repeating “Start it off, start it off” over and over again in almost a rage, remembering how it all began and how she ended up here. It all seems to be a part of a cycle she’s describing, one that she’s unsure was meant for her. 

This album tells of love, hurt, anger, change and what you can learn from them. Apple herself puts it best: “The message in the whole record is just: Fetch the f—— bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation that you’re in — whatever it is that you don’t like.”