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With Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple Just Gave Us All the Perfect Gift


Fiona Apple plays piano in silhouette against a red curtain.

In a rare interview with Vulture last fall, Fiona Apple teased that she was working on a new album. A few months later, she announced the title (Fetch the Bolt Cutters) but said there still wasn’t a release date. As it turns out, the release date is today, April 17th, and we all just got an incredible surprise gift.

For Apple’s fans, this is a huge gift. It’s been eight years since her last album. She stopped touring and even doing her semi-regular live shows at Largo in Los Angeles years ago. Last fall, she sang a new song as the end credits for the Halloween episode of Bob’s Burgers and I was so surprised to hear her voice it made me embarrassingly emotional.

According to another new interview with Vulture’s Rachel Handler, Apple’s record label wanted to hold the album until October. But it is most definitely an album for exactly right now. Apple couldn’t possibly have been intending to make an album for our collective quarantine but it makes sense. She’s notoriously reclusive and has essentially been living under a self-imposed shelter-in-place order for years. And you can hear it in the album.

First of all, she made the album at home. Much of it was recorded using GarageBand and her iPhone and she tells Handler that “The whole house is the recording room.”

The album’s first song, “I Want You to Love Me,” starts out with a kicky little totally danceable melody but things become more strained, more frantic as it goes on, with Apple holding the long notes just longer than is comfortable, both for us and also for her, making us anxious for them to end as her voice wavers. The titular song, referencing a line spoken by Gillian Anderson in The Fall, expresses how so many of us are feeling right now: “Fetch the bolt cutters, I’ve been in here too long.”

It’s not just the quarantine feel that makes the album so timely. There’s so much here about women’s pain and rage–an eternal, timeless subject that’s been a throughline in all her albums, really, but there’s an edge to this record that fits the specific hurt so many of us are feeling in the #MeToo era, along with the new collective refusal to stay silent.

“Kick me under the table all you want,” she sings. “I won’t shut up. I won’t shut up.”

The very first line of the first song is “I’ve waited many years,” which is how so many of us feel about a new Fiona Apple album.

It’s different from her past music, to be sure. The process of creating an album inside her home, and finally, for once, having final creative control over her songs–you can tell that she was making the most of the ability to really experiment. But it’s also the same Fiona Apple we know, with all the beauty, reflection, and rage we’ve been craving.

Along with the album, I definitely recommend reading that latest Vulture interview. Apple discusses the process of making the album, but also talks about things like getting sober, finally allowing herself to feel angry at the man who raped her when she was 12, and interrogating her relationships with other women. It’s a hell of a read.

(image: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.