The Listener

Beautiful voice, pretentious album: Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters reviewed

9 May 2020

9:00 AM

9 May 2020

9:00 AM

Grade: C+

Where did they all come from, the quirky yet meaningful rock chicks who don’t have a decent song between them yet put out albums by the bucketload? Back in the day it was just Joni Mitchell, who had four good songs, Laura Nyro who had two and Dory Previn who had one.

Now there are thousands of these creatures, flaunting their intemperance without showing much brilliance. And all slavered over by the (still male) music press. Years of oppression, of being disregarded, they would argue. But disregarded for very good reasons, in almost all cases. Yeah, Carole King is ten times the songwriter James Taylor ever was. I will give you that. We got that wrong. But that doesn’t mean we have to be tormented for eternity by the likes of Laura flipping Marling, does it?

Fiona Apple. Beautiful voice and a rather lovely pianist. New album so pretentious, so wrapped up in itself, it ignores almost everything that makes music wonderful. The melodies are almost always repetitive to the point at which one simply turns off. The words are at times winningly acerbic, especially on the almost catchy ‘Under The Table’, in which Fiona insists she will not remain under the table — not for you, not for me, not even for Dominic Raab, probably. ‘Rack Of His’ has a slightly smoky agreeableness to it: a blues format she more usually disdains. The rest is occasionally clever piano motifs and garbled histrionics, devoid of beauty.

It is a terrible thing to say but I still think Apple’s finest moment was her B-side cover of ‘Across The Universe’. And I don’t even like Lennon.

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