Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters:” The Audio Experience

Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Bolt Cutters:” The Audio Experience

Melanie Barry, Staff Writer

Fiona Apple is an artist who found fame in the 1990s, though she has continued to put out work throughout the past two decades. Her main genre of music is progressive pop and art pop. Her newest album, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” released April 17, 2020, conveys her intense message in a unique approach.

Her songs consist of somewhat jarring, fast pianos, vibraphones, and stumbling drums. Her melodies are simple, inconsistent, and clash together at times. Though they begin quiet and nice, they often end in a crashing crescendo. There is no formula and no way to predict what her voice will do next. Her songs are not easy to listen to, and personally I would not listen to them on my own time. The album is less of a collection of songs, and more of a refreshing, at times unnerving, audio experience. One could even call it revolutionary when comparing it to the popular, manufactured pop music that dominates all the charts. The melodies and harmonies serve a purpose, but it is not to please her audience. Though her songs are at times almost unbearable to listen to, the extreme harsh or shrill moments are the pinnacle of the album as they demonstrate the misery Apple felt in the way only music can.

This misery is explained masterfully in her lyrics. While mainstream, modern pop songs these days often lack the poetic depth of music, this album if nothing if not poetic. Topics include irritating dinner parties, bullies and cool kids, inner teenage turmoil, sitting bored in class, and unsuccessful friendships. The lyrics of each song seem almost accidental, but when it is all put together, her message is clear. An imaginary, self-made fence confines her in a dismal, repetitive life that she describes in each of her songs. Apple tells of how she “fetched the bolt cutters” and escaped. She encourages others facing a similar situation to do the same.

People, especially in our generation, often forget that music is an art – and art is not always pretty. Some of the best works in history are the most painful to look at. Though I do not see myself listening to this album for sheer enjoyment, I can still appreciate the importance and novelty of her story.