Fiona Apple is an American singer with a complicated destiny as she is a survivor of sexual assault However, she claims that she has never written songs about her trauma. Her entire family was connected with music — her grandfather used to sing in a big band, and her sister is a cabaret singer. Apple received a classical music education and played the piano since she was a child Her idols from an early age are jazz singers Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
«Fetch the Bolt Cutters» was released on April 17 and continues to get high ratings. At this point it can be even called album of the year: it has gotten the highest ratings on all major music sites which almost sounds like some kind of joke: op score of one hundred points on Metacritic and 10/10 (oh, my, ten out of ten) on Pitchfork. The last time such a score by Pitchfork was given only to Kanye's album «My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy» (2010). Moreover, immediately after the album was released, tons of memes appeared on English-speaking Twitter where the album's name was written in other popular memes. In this situation, such high ratings and attention are more interesting than the album itself.
Many people are used to artists who are popular not because of their music but their behavior. Fiona does not make loud statements and does not walk the crocodiles. Such high ratings no longer seem strange when you look at the history of Fiona's albums. Thanks to connections, Fiona's first album, «Tidal» (1996) was released on the major label Sony Music. «Tidal» is a great pop record with jazz tunes, lots of cliches, and breakup songs. It was her debut and immediately became a stunning success simultaneously: three million copies were sold in the US alone. Singles from the album charted in a bunch of markets, sold well , and won a Grammy for the single «Criminal».
In 1999, «When the Pawn...» was released it's even a more personal album and where the influence of alternative music genres that were popular at the time like trip-hop and was influenced by popular alternative music trends of the time like trip-hop can be heard clearly. «Extraordinary Machine» (2005) had an all-star production team Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Eminem) and Brian Kehoe (Black Sabbath and other rock'n'roll stuff). «The Idler Wheel...» (2012) also got almost perfect ratings and reached number three on the Billboard 200. Success has accompanied the artist since then so that high ratings don't seem so delusional as they do at first glance.
Eight years after the last album, «Fetch the Bolt Cutters» is released — a classic pop jazz-influenced record A goofy album cover during the analogue era would be the key to failure. However, in 2020 only audiophiles care about vinyl and cassettes. And yet the question is: what's the reason to love Fiona Apple? It's the voice and singing style inherited from Nina Simone. The jazz percussion. Her delivery doesn't sound like modern rapping. It stylistically refers to the time when jazz musicians recited stand-up during improvisations. The critics are even more conservative than the audience as they tend to adore old stuff. But this is not enough for such success. Recent releases by Mac Miller, Yves Tumor, and Thundercat are also inspired by the classics but haven't as high of ratings
In addition to the love of classics, «Fetch the Bolt Cutters» demonstrates excellent performance of various musical instruments, both by Fiona and other musicians. Catchy hook phrases are in the chorus of each song. Also, there is a stylistic variety: the same track «Shameika» strikes in the era of rappers and Billie Eilish, who sing in one tune. Apple sincerely sings, yells, howls about the events of her life. «Under the Table» is about vile men, «Heavy Balloon» is about depression, «Shameika» is about praise from a classmate of thirty years ago. Fiona Apple's album is full of resentment, toxic relationships, dissatisfaction, and vulnerability: Simple, clear stories that could happen to everyone. A weak person who grows up and learns to be strong. Fetch the bolt cutters, break your chains, run, fight, become a person. All this is in the shape of a clear pop song, which also sounds more complex and interesting than everything else which surrounds it. Besides, her album generally fits into the feminist agenda, track «Ladies», for example. Fiona sings about what people discuss in their blogs. That's ten out of ten from Pitchfork.
«Fetch the Bolt Cutters» is a solid pop record, but not an album of the decade. It is as a session with a therapist, but it is not Tom Waits.
translated by Nick Brandin