Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters was released in April 2020, seven months earlier than expected, allowing listeners to use it during lockdown. I say ‘use’ because I believe this album is a toolkit for diﬃcult times. Grounded in themes of injustice and power, and recorded within the walls of her home, the album that’s been eight years in the making feels chiselled for this moment.
Within our COVID restrictions, Fetch The Bolt Cutters models the way homes can form wombs for personal, political, and artistic growth. Recording the album within her house, Apple gains autonomy of her stories, reclaiming her voice from the industry that stole it and composting her rage into fertile soil for hope.
Tracks like “Newspaper” and “Relay” bubble with the unfairness Apple experiences, holding these experiences without allowing them to cancel out goodness. Apple welcomes complexity and intentionally moves away from perfectionism into authentic imperfection, littering songs with unplanned dog barks, spoiled vocal takes, and spontaneous outbursts of dolphin noise. Her commitment to transparency is what makes Fetch The Bolt Cutters vital listening.
Fetch The Bolt Cutters knows that better things exist beyond our conﬁnes: it commands the bolt cutters despite the unknown. The album knows that escaping this reality is paramount, mirroring our own thoughts of not going back to normal post-COVID. It accepts that to grow is to dare and risk failure, and that this is necessary.
Since April, this album has functioned as a safe space to express rage and meditate on healing. It is a musical landmark of isolation and one we can return to as we transition out of this period, giving birth to a new world. I like to think of the “bang it, bite it, bruise it” from “I Want You To Love Me” as an invitation to squeeze this album for all it’s worth, slurping up every drop of its ripe wisdom.