Sure Fetch the Bolt Cutters (“Bring back the bolt cutters”), composed in the interior of her house, Fiona Apple borrows little from outside. But this title quote came from elsewhere and opens all doors. This is a sentence from an episode of the police series The fall, pronounced by the investigator played by Gillian Anderson in a scene where she finds a raped woman, kidnapped, and requests a bolt cutter to free her. Likewise, the pop of Fiona Apple unscrews. Her anger unlocks, the framework of her songs comes out of the nails, but there is one thing that she knows how to keep firmly fixed: our attention.
The world discovered it in 1996 with its album Tidal. A New York fan of jazz and hip-hop, the daughter of a Broadway actor, she was 18 years old and spoke of the rape she suffered at 12 years old in a stairwell. The album received a phenomenal success, offering him a platform to launch a cry of the heart to the music industry, connected to the MTV image pump: “This world is bullshit.” Articles from his teenage beginnings give momentum to this new album – and turn the guts upside down. Here a journalist talks about his need to take a cold shower. There another signifies his fantasy of sharing his nights with her. Yet another criticizes him for making his rape storytelling, in an article illustrated with photos of Terry Richardson (now banned from fashion magazines). “Hit me under the table as long as you like, I won’t close it”, she roars today on Under the Table, in a triumphant voice that hardens in a crash of percussion.
This release, favored by a climate of confidence and sorority installed with the #MeToo movement, allows him to get out of the state of convalescence of his previous albums. In some aspects, it is indeed a self-defense guide, but it is above all an aesthetic success: 13 titles mounted in power in a reduced space, which reconcile the rough and the worked, and refuse pop constraints such as they were imposed on him. On the album Extraordinary Machine already in 2005, the title Please Please Please sanctioned the obvious: “No more melodies, they lack impact, they are insignificant.” We can see a revenge on this album which had been refused as is by its label, before leaking and then being reworked by Eminem producer, Mike Elizondo.
For once, the American only listens to her apple. She chooses as rhythmic canvas her own bells, pans, bones of her deceased dog (for which she had canceled a tour), various clangs and perhaps even baby shoes that she used as percussion in a video posted on her blog in 2018. “I’ll give you what you want, house.” I know you deserve to be the record, “ summed up Fiona Apple in the magazine Vulture to explain this voluntary domestic confinement. Since his previous album, The Idler Wheel… in 2012, she kneaded her shortcrust pastry, taking advantage of a long break, free from outside spikes and all expectations. The piano, to which it has always been attached, precedes it with chaotic bursts, in a decadent cabaret style, but also passes over in silence at times, without it breaking the balance of the album. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is mainly articulated by metallic noises from cookware and by top model Cara Delevingne, invited to repeat the key phrase of the album, helping Fiona Apple to get out of her hinges. The heavy subjects, around male abuse most of the time, reach us by his imperious voice and by the grace of several infiltrations of humor. If it surprises at first listen, we quickly integrate the invasion of barking in the sound field, left as is, parasites of home-recording testifying to a denial of perfection. The end of the album, between chanted working song, blues palpitations and jazz digressions, does not resemble any previously decoded formula. This strange mixture, whose most memorable titles rush to the end, has just won the score of 10/10 on Pitchfork. The benchmark site had previously given this rating only to Kanye West, but it no longer needs such honors. Now immune to attack, Fiona Apple McAfee-Maggart, by its full name, is its own firewall, and so is ours now.
Fiona Apple Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Sony / Epic).