Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

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Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by BleuPanda » Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:20 pm

I listened to this after I woke up and...wow. I've never been the biggest Fiona Apple fan, but wow.

I believe this is the first perfect review Pitchfork has delivered since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy?
https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/fi ... t-cutters/


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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by PlasticRam » Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:23 pm

Wow. Just the fact that it's a perfect review. Haven't listened to it yet.
I feel like that

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by PlasticRam » Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:33 pm

I don't get the hype. 7.8 so far as I'm halfway through.

Edit: 7.9 now that I listened to the whole thing. I'm gonna listen to it a second time sometime.
I feel like that

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Listyguy » Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:19 pm

I put this in the 2020 albums thread as well:

I've listened a few more times now. It's a great album. I'm not as high on it as Pitchfork (I still give Grimes the edge at the moment for album of the year, but that could change), but it's certainly great. "Left Alone" is my favorite Fiona Apple song, and a lot of the percussion ideas that we see on songs like "On I Go" sound like a continuation (and improvement) on that sound. Other avant-garde ideas creep into the likes of "Heavy Balloon," which takes that song to another level. Combine this with Apple's lyrics (which as always are stellar), and some intriguing, complex vocal arrangements and you have all the makings of a classic.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jackson » Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:55 pm

This is an aside, but the way Pitchfork wields its "perfect score" is so strange. For a new release, it's almost impossible to achieve, even for a release like To Pimp a Butterfly (which, as we know, eventually outranked MBDTF on their end of decade list). But for any re-release of a notable album that came out more than 20 years ago, a 10 is almost the default score. I don't think this new 10 score means as much as it would have in a prior era of Pitchfork.

That said, I'm very excited to hear this. Any Fiona Apple release is an event album.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by PlasticRam » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:31 pm

Jackson wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:55 pm
This is an aside, but the way Pitchfork wields its "perfect score" is so strange. For a new release, it's almost impossible to achieve, even for a release like To Pimp a Butterfly (which, as we know, eventually outranked MBDTF on their end of decade list)
MBDTF was 2nd while TPAB was 4th. Blonde got 1st.
I feel like that

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Cold Butterfly » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:41 pm

Fetch The Bolt Cutters is the most experimental album she’s ever made. You can hear echoes of artists like Tom Waits and John Cage on this album’s songs. It makes for instrumentation that is more confrontational than anything she’s ever made in her career.

But it’s the lyrics on here which blow me away. Her character-driven stories balance all types of humor, absurdity and critique, and all these traits fall under a politically charged aesthetic she pushes throughout, which is undoubtedly relevant right now. Her clever and brutal lyricism is Dylan-esque in the way it does all these things. All this makes for an album that’s not only deserving of it’s praise, but already earns the title of an “instant classic”

This is an album we need for these times, an urgent masterpiece.
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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Nick » Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:26 pm

Someone on Stereogum called this the "twee Yeezus".

It's literally "Tweezus".

That seems pretty accurate.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jirin » Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:33 pm

There is a new Fiona Apple album? Must listen now.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Nassim » Fri Apr 17, 2020 6:49 pm

Jackson wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:55 pm
But for any re-release of a notable album that came out more than 20 years ago, a 10 is almost the default score. I don't think this new 10 score means as much as it would have in a prior era of Pitchfork.
I don't agree with that, they review an old album every Sunday and with that added to all the rereleases they are now up to about 110 10s. There are a lot of stone cold classic they gave a grade between 9 and 9.9
And still, that's the first 10 in 10 years for a new release, that's huge, it's the longest time span between 2 of them !

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by acroamor » Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:01 pm

Absolutely adore the album but I'm worried the universal adulation + the Pitchfork 10 is sparking a hype backlash movement.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Listyguy » Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:45 pm

acroamor wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:01 pm
Absolutely adore the album but I'm worried the universal adulation + the Pitchfork 10 is sparking a hype backlash movement.
In the age of the internet, everything gets a backlash movement. I guess the question is how strong will it be; the album's rating is sitting at 4.16 on rateyourmusic with 2800 ratings (it was at 4.24 when there were ~1000 ratings). I'm curious what the reaction would be to Anthony Fantano giving it a 10, if that happens.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Cold Butterfly » Sat Apr 18, 2020 12:39 am

I know we’re just 4 months into the 2020s, but I can already see this album being a critics’ AOTD contender. Not since To Pimp A Butterfly has an album been so universally acclaimed in critical quarters. Yes, I understand there’s many years left in the decade, but this feels like a monumental moment for popular music. And you know what? It deserves that praise.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by StevieFan13 » Sat Apr 18, 2020 10:24 pm

I can’t wait to listen since I love Fiona Apple. And it feels better saying nice things about her than nice things about Kanye.
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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Holden » Sat Apr 18, 2020 10:33 pm

Cold Butterfly wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 12:39 am
I know we’re just 4 months into the 2020s, but I can already see this album being a critics’ AOTD contender. Not since To Pimp A Butterfly has an album been so universally acclaimed in critical quarters. Yes, I understand there’s many years left in the decade, but this feels like a monumental moment for popular music. And you know what? It deserves that praise.
To be fair to the whole 4 months in thing, MBDTF was only 11 months into the 2010s and it is currently at #2 for the decade in the EOD spreadsheet, and The Suburbs was only 8 and it is currently at #9. To extend the point even further, #16, This Is Happening, was only 5 months in, and #20, Teen Dream, was released in January of 2010.
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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by madzong » Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:09 pm

It was okay - certainly better than some of the recent stuff she has done. I liked her debut album but haven't enjoyed and/or been ambivalent to the rest of her releases. It just doesn't appeal to me and again, I know she is much-loved on this forum and often a darling of the critics.

As for a rating of 10/10 on Pitchfork, I remember they gave The Fragile a 2/10 review in 1999 and in 2019 they gave the re-release of the same album an 8.7/10.

For me, a 10/10 album = perfect album. Is it though?
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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Rocky Raccoon » Sun Apr 19, 2020 4:54 pm

I agree with Pitchfork, it deserves the same score as MBDTF.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Rob » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:08 pm

I have to say, usually hypes tend to pass me by, but this time I'm feeling it, probably because I loved Apple's previous albums. Sadly, I haven't found a chance to listen to this yet, as I am dedicated to the Moderately Acclaimed Albums game and that one dictates that I should listen to the winner of Indionesian Idol 2019 instead.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by DaveC » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:29 pm

Rob wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:08 pm
I have to say, usually hypes tend to pass me by, but this time I'm feeling it, probably because I loved Apple's previous albums. Sadly, I haven't found a chance to listen to this yet, as I am dedicated to the Moderately Acclaimed Albums game and that one dictates that I should listen to the winner of Indionesian Idol 2019 instead.
You have it easy. I'm listening to Machine Gun instead - just got to the bit where the saxophone sounds like a chicken.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jackson » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:28 pm

Three listens in and I am a big fan of this album. It's an improvement in all ways from the already excellent Idler Wheel - most notably in its memorable melodies and the sense of excitement and intensity that flows through the songs. I can't help but notice that many of the songs feature the layered vocal melodies and unique drum sound that made "Hot Knife" my previous favorite Fiona song.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jackson » Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:34 pm

Listyguy wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:45 pm
acroamor wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:01 pm
Absolutely adore the album but I'm worried the universal adulation + the Pitchfork 10 is sparking a hype backlash movement.
In the age of the internet, everything gets a backlash movement. I guess the question is how strong will it be; the album's rating is sitting at 4.16 on rateyourmusic with 2800 ratings (it was at 4.24 when there were ~1000 ratings). I'm curious what the reaction would be to Anthony Fantano giving it a 10, if that happens.
Now it's at 4.01 with nearly 6,000 reviews. I wonder how much of this is genuine backlash and how much is just natural decline over time for user ratings-driven sites. The same pattern happens for most albums on RYM and on other sites such as IMDB. The first group of people who listened to this album were more likely to be those who were already excited for a new Fiona album (i.e. people who were predisposed to rate the album very highly). Now many of those listening to the album and rating it may more casual fans of her work or people who were just drawn in by the critical hype.

Either way, this is an impressive rating for a new release on RYM and it's almost assured to be the highest rated album of the year.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by FrankLotion » Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:29 pm

I usually try to listen to albums a couple weeks after the release so I can get the hype out of my head but I decided this was worth listening to now since I’ve already waited 8 years...

I’m not sure how I feel about this in relation to her whole discography but after this first listen I can’t say I’m disappointed and I think the praise is largely justified. As Jackson said it does feel like a more improved extension of the already amazing Idler Wheel and feels similarly significant in its own way, backlash be damned!

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Nassim » Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:44 am

So in about a year time, she will have 5 albums out of 5 in the AM top 2000 which is quite a feat, especially for someone whose name doesn't seem to appear much in discussion about major artists. There aren't that many artists who have 100% of their discography in AM (though yes, it is a bit easier with 5 albums than with 20) or even with just 5 albums in a row ranked on AM (maybe 50 artists, tops ?) and I would guess most of them are in the AM top 50.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Harold » Tue Apr 21, 2020 2:35 pm

Nassim wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:44 am
So in about a year time, she will have 5 albums out of 5 in the AM top 2000 which is quite a feat, especially for someone whose name doesn't seem to appear much in discussion about major artists.
That will certainly change given the off-the-charts (and much-deserved, in my opinion) reception for FTBC. I believe this is the first time in the history of Metacritic that a new studio album has maintained a perfect 100 with over 20 reviews.

It's a brilliant album, but I'm still not sure it's quite as extraordinary as The Idler Wheel..., which sounded like a masterpiece from my first listen. I'm making my way back through Apple's catalog right now, and as focused and ambitious as her music has been from the beginning, there is nothing about those first three albums that could have prepared anyone for the freewheeling mixture of precise songwriting craftsmanship and what-the-hell-let's-try-THIS-and-see-how-it-works production experimentalism in these last two. Apple is a singular artist, and it's great to see her getting the appreciation she merits.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Listyguy » Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:19 pm

I came across video of Fiona and Elvis Costello performing "I Want You" last year that really impressed me, and also scared me a bit because of how devastating her vocal performance was (certainly a theme through all of her music, but a bit more pronounced in a live setting). It doesn't really related too much to her new release, but here's the video for anyone who might be interested in it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs46Zem ... e=youtu.be
Last edited by Listyguy on Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Harold » Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:37 pm

Listyguy wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:19 pm
I came across video of Fiona and Elvis Costello performing "I Want You" last year that really impressed me, and also scared me a bit because of how devastating her vocal performance was (certainly a theme through all of her music, but a bit more pronounced in a live setting).
That's one thing that all of her albums do have in common - those startling moments when her voice suddenly becomes utterly ragged and raw, like "the song is singing her" instead of the other way around. As worked-over as the production and arrangements on her early work can be, those moments sound unplanned, and they always take the songs to another level.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jackson » Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:12 pm

Nassim wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:44 am
So in about a year time, she will have 5 albums out of 5 in the AM top 2000 which is quite a feat, especially for someone whose name doesn't seem to appear much in discussion about major artists. There aren't that many artists who have 100% of their discography in AM (though yes, it is a bit easier with 5 albums than with 20) or even with just 5 albums in a row ranked on AM (maybe 50 artists, tops ?) and I would guess most of them are in the AM top 50.
Fiona Apple is one of those artists where her AM scores (pre-FTBC) don't seem to accurately reflect how popular she is among contemporary critics. All of her first four albums may be in the top 2,000, but zero are in the top 500 and she also has no songs in the top 1,000. That doesn't feel quite right, and reminds me of Sleater-Kinney, who is also seemingly beloved by critics but with no top 500 albums or top 1,000 songs on AM.

Of course, Fetch the Bolt Cutters will change this for Fiona. I assume it will hit top 100 all time if it sweeps AOTY lists like it probably will.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Cold Butterfly » Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:19 pm

Jackson wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:12 pm
Nassim wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:44 am
So in about a year time, she will have 5 albums out of 5 in the AM top 2000 which is quite a feat, especially for someone whose name doesn't seem to appear much in discussion about major artists. There aren't that many artists who have 100% of their discography in AM (though yes, it is a bit easier with 5 albums than with 20) or even with just 5 albums in a row ranked on AM (maybe 50 artists, tops ?) and I would guess most of them are in the AM top 50.
Fiona Apple is one of those artists where her AM scores (pre-FTBC) don't seem to accurately reflect how popular she is among contemporary critics. All of her first four albums may be in the top 2,000, but zero are in the top 500 and she also has no songs in the top 1,000. That doesn't feel quite right, and reminds me of Sleater-Kinney, who is also seemingly beloved by critics but with no top 500 albums or top 1,000 songs on AM.

Of course, Fetch the Bolt Cutters will change this for Fiona. I assume it will hit top 100 all time if it sweeps AOTY lists like it probably will.
It's because Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney have been mostly American critical favorites throughout their careers. The praise in the UK and the rest of the world for those artists haven't been as euphoric as in the US. Hopefully that will change soon - The Idler Wheel will definitely hit the top 500 in the next update, and Dig Me Out is just outside the top 500 (hopefully The Woods, which is one of my favorite albums of all time, rises up in the future rankings)

And yeah, Fetch The Bolt Cutters definitely looks like a future top 100 AM album.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by andyd1010 » Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:29 pm

Listyguy wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:19 pm
I came across video of Fiona and Elvis Costello performing "I Want You" last year that really impressed me, and also scared me a bit because of how devastating her vocal performance was (certainly a theme through all of her music, but a bit more pronounced in a live setting). It doesn't really related too much to her new release, but here's the video for anyone who might be interested in it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs46Zem ... e=youtu.be
Phenomenal. Thanks for sharing! And from that video I stumbled upon Elvis Costello's cover of I Know, which is also great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZy9FqIlZvU

How in the world is I Know not on AM??? Such an amazing song. At least Elvis agrees with me.

I'm glad Fiona is finally getting the recognition she deserves.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jackson » Tue Apr 21, 2020 6:07 pm

[/quote]
It's because Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney have been mostly American critical favorites throughout their careers. The praise in the UK and the rest of the world for those artists haven't been as euphoric as in the US. Hopefully that will change soon - The Idler Wheel will definitely hit the top 500 in the next update, and Dig Me Out is just outside the top 500 (hopefully The Woods, which is one of my favorite albums of all time, rises up in the future rankings)

And yeah, Fetch The Bolt Cutters definitely looks like a future top 100 AM album.
[/quote]

Agreed on the US vs. UK critics. Another issue that Sleater-Kinney has always had is that no one can agree on what their best albums and songs are. While Dig Me Out is their highest ranked album and The Woods is another classic, I personally think that One Beat is their true masterpiece and is ridiculously underrated on AM. Before Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona may have had this same issue where her albums split votes so they all end up as marginally acclaimed.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Rob » Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:52 am

Cold Butterfly wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:19 pm
Jackson wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:12 pm
Nassim wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:44 am
So in about a year time, she will have 5 albums out of 5 in the AM top 2000 which is quite a feat, especially for someone whose name doesn't seem to appear much in discussion about major artists. There aren't that many artists who have 100% of their discography in AM (though yes, it is a bit easier with 5 albums than with 20) or even with just 5 albums in a row ranked on AM (maybe 50 artists, tops ?) and I would guess most of them are in the AM top 50.
Fiona Apple is one of those artists where her AM scores (pre-FTBC) don't seem to accurately reflect how popular she is among contemporary critics. All of her first four albums may be in the top 2,000, but zero are in the top 500 and she also has no songs in the top 1,000. That doesn't feel quite right, and reminds me of Sleater-Kinney, who is also seemingly beloved by critics but with no top 500 albums or top 1,000 songs on AM.

Of course, Fetch the Bolt Cutters will change this for Fiona. I assume it will hit top 100 all time if it sweeps AOTY lists like it probably will.
It's because Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney have been mostly American critical favorites throughout their careers. The praise in the UK and the rest of the world for those artists haven't been as euphoric as in the US.
I'm not sure. I feel that both Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney are too much outsiders. Apple at least had a hit at the beginning of her career, but that moment in the limelight faded quickly. Sleater-Kinney had none. For both acts their most acclaimed work had no impact on the world outside musical circles whatsoever. Not only are they not on the radio, but they are not festival headliners, may have fans but not a real, recognizable cult following, don't belong to a particular scene or movement, not to a particular style or era, you hardly hear their songs in films or television, etc. They lack a tangible presence and I've noticed that this is something that really hinders their appearance on lists after the year-ends are done. Music critics, far more than critics of other arts, feel a need to pinpoint artists in a bigger narrative. Only outsiders in the extreme, like Captain Beefheart, can be an exception.

Maybe Fetch the Bolt Cutters will finally be the one that will be unavoidable in future lists. At the same time, make no mistake: people here may call it an event album in line with To Pimp a Butterfly, but in contrast to Kendrick Lamar's album, Bolt Cutters has as of yet no mainstream presence. It's Spotify streaming is unremarkable at best.

There is truth in that Apple didn't have an consensus masterpiece album yet, though. When The Idler Wheel came out it felt like finally that was the one, but apparently not. I think all of them are great, but before Bolt Cutters (which I still haven't heard, because this week Moderately Acclaimed wants me to listen to a Kanye West break-up album I already confirmed that I hate) my favorite was When the Pawn, which curiously ranks last on AM. Maybe Bolt Cutters will be what Let England Shakes was for PJ Harvey, as she was in a similar position as Apple before that one.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Kingoftonga » Wed Apr 22, 2020 1:24 pm

Rob wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:52 am
I'm not sure. I feel that both Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney are too much outsiders. Apple at least had a hit at the beginning of her career, but that moment in the limelight faded quickly. Sleater-Kinney had none. For both acts their most acclaimed work had no impact on the world outside musical circles whatsoever.
I don't know...did Sleater-Kinney really have less of a cultural impact than Pavement, a band with a similar "outsider" status that nonetheless has two albums in the AM Top 200? Sleater-Kinney is also arguably the best band to emerge from the Riotgrrl movement, so you would think that some of their albums would make critics' lists if for no other reason than to represent that aspect of American rock in the 90s. S/K has always been a respected band, but never seemed to make it into that "canonical" status until very recently, and it would be hard for me to argue that gender wasn't a factor in that.

Fiona Apple is a weirder example, and part of that might be because her initial success blinded a lot of critics to her actual artistic ability. My memory is that, in the 90s, she was lumped into the Lilith Fair female singer-songwriter group, and looked upon as somebody similar to Jewel, a flash-in-the-pan type artist for teenage girls. Her 1997 MTV Award speech went the equivalent of going viral for that time, and she was dating Paul Thomas Anderson, another young, newly-minted celebrity, and so the cultural idea of Fiona Apple centered more around her celebrity status than her music. (It also probably didn't help that piano-driven singer-songwriter pop was not the most critically acclaimed form of music during that era). Even the battles over the production of 2005's Extraordinary Machine showed that, at that time, labels were still marketing Fiona Apple as a major mainstream pop star, rather than a quirky, outside-the-mainstream act. I think it took about a decade for that image of Fiona Apple to fade and for critics to begin to reckon with her actual musical legacy outside of all the extra stuff, and it was easier when she wasn't being pushed as the Next Big Thing.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Harold » Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:26 pm

Kingoftonga wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 1:24 pm
Fiona Apple is a weirder example, and part of that might be because her initial success blinded a lot of critics to her actual artistic ability. My memory is that, in the 90s, she was lumped into the Lilith Fair female singer-songwriter group, and looked upon as somebody similar to Jewel, a flash-in-the-pan type artist for teenage girls. Her 1997 MTV Award speech went the equivalent of going viral for that time, and she was dating Paul Thomas Anderson, another young, newly-minted celebrity, and so the cultural idea of Fiona Apple centered more around her celebrity status than her music.
The fact that Apple was still an actual teenage girl when her first album came out played into this as well. Not to mention that, because she was a young woman in the music industry and possessed of a certain attractiveness, a lot of the photos taken of her in that era ... haven't dated well, let's just say that. (Even some of the liner photos for Tidal, which I'm sure she had no control over, fall into this overly-sexualized category.) And that infamous MTV speech added "crazy girl" to her image for a long time. Fortunately, Apple started finding ways to own and reclaim and re-mold and play off of those images pretty much right away; she actually started getting more respect as an artist as early as When the Pawn... (which made the Pazz and Jop top ten for 1999).

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by luvulongTIM » Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:49 pm

Allmusic.com.com has been really slow to review a bunch of recent releases including this one. Wonder what their excuse is.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Cold Butterfly » Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:53 pm

Rob wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:52 am
Cold Butterfly wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:19 pm
Jackson wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:12 pm


Fiona Apple is one of those artists where her AM scores (pre-FTBC) don't seem to accurately reflect how popular she is among contemporary critics. All of her first four albums may be in the top 2,000, but zero are in the top 500 and she also has no songs in the top 1,000. That doesn't feel quite right, and reminds me of Sleater-Kinney, who is also seemingly beloved by critics but with no top 500 albums or top 1,000 songs on AM.

Of course, Fetch the Bolt Cutters will change this for Fiona. I assume it will hit top 100 all time if it sweeps AOTY lists like it probably will.
It's because Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney have been mostly American critical favorites throughout their careers. The praise in the UK and the rest of the world for those artists haven't been as euphoric as in the US.
I'm not sure. I feel that both Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney are too much outsiders. Apple at least had a hit at the beginning of her career, but that moment in the limelight faded quickly. Sleater-Kinney had none. For both acts their most acclaimed work had no impact on the world outside musical circles whatsoever. Not only are they not on the radio, but they are not festival headliners, may have fans but not a real, recognizable cult following, don't belong to a particular scene or movement, not to a particular style or era, you hardly hear their songs in films or television, etc. They lack a tangible presence and I've noticed that this is something that really hinders their appearance on lists after the year-ends are done. Music critics, far more than critics of other arts, feel a need to pinpoint artists in a bigger narrative. Only outsiders in the extreme, like Captain Beefheart, can be an exception.

Maybe Fetch the Bolt Cutters will finally be the one that will be unavoidable in future lists. At the same time, make no mistake: people here may call it an event album in line with To Pimp a Butterfly, but in contrast to Kendrick Lamar's album, Bolt Cutters has as of yet no mainstream presence. It's Spotify streaming is unremarkable at best.

There is truth in that Apple didn't have an consensus masterpiece album yet, though. When The Idler Wheel came out it felt like finally that was the one, but apparently not. I think all of them are great, but before Bolt Cutters (which I still haven't heard, because this week Moderately Acclaimed wants me to listen to a Kanye West break-up album I already confirmed that I hate) my favorite was When the Pawn, which curiously ranks last on AM. Maybe Bolt Cutters will be what Let England Shakes was for PJ Harvey, as she was in a similar position as Apple before that one.
Extraordinary Machine and The Idler Wheel both peaked in the top ten of the Billboard album charts in the U.S., so I wouldn't go so far as to call her an "outsider." Maybe in regards to her music, but not to her popularity. I agree that she doesn't seem to be a part of a "movement" but many famous musicians have been known for defining trends of any era. Also, Fetch The Bolt Cutters currently holds the #1 position on the U.S. iTunes albums chart.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Rob » Wed Apr 22, 2020 4:00 pm

Kingoftonga wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 1:24 pm
Rob wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:52 am
I'm not sure. I feel that both Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney are too much outsiders. Apple at least had a hit at the beginning of her career, but that moment in the limelight faded quickly. Sleater-Kinney had none. For both acts their most acclaimed work had no impact on the world outside musical circles whatsoever.
I don't know...did Sleater-Kinney really have less of a cultural impact than Pavement, a band with a similar "outsider" status that nonetheless has two albums in the AM Top 200? Sleater-Kinney is also arguably the best band to emerge from the Riotgrrl movement, so you would think that some of their albums would make critics' lists if for no other reason than to represent that aspect of American rock in the 90s. S/K has always been a respected band, but never seemed to make it into that "canonical" status until very recently, and it would be hard for me to argue that gender wasn't a factor in that.
The difference is that Pavement in their own way fit right into their era. Those classic albums scream indie anno early 1990's and that scene went on to have continuing influence on "outsider" art for the coming decades. For hipsters or people "in the know", Pavement were a big deal The riot grrrl movement was already far more limited in appeal and reach and none of them became critical mainstays. Add to that fact that Sleater-Kinney only started when the actual riot grrrl movement had already petered out and that they quickly evolved their style and you have a scenario where they don't belong in any world. They're too modern and hardcore for the Rolling Stone crowd, not hip enough for Pitchfork and too invisible for the mainstream. That they only now seem to become accepted is thanks to longevity and consistency, basically the path that also helped Nick Cave (another figure who belonged nowhere) and maybe even Tom Waits.
Fiona Apple is a weirder example, and part of that might be because her initial success blinded a lot of critics to her actual artistic ability. My memory is that, in the 90s, she was lumped into the Lilith Fair female singer-songwriter group, and looked upon as somebody similar to Jewel, a flash-in-the-pan type artist for teenage girls. Her 1997 MTV Award speech went the equivalent of going viral for that time, and she was dating Paul Thomas Anderson, another young, newly-minted celebrity, and so the cultural idea of Fiona Apple centered more around her celebrity status than her music. (It also probably didn't help that piano-driven singer-songwriter pop was not the most critically acclaimed form of music during that era). Even the battles over the production of 2005's Extraordinary Machine showed that, at that time, labels were still marketing Fiona Apple as a major mainstream pop star, rather than a quirky, outside-the-mainstream act. I think it took about a decade for that image of Fiona Apple to fade and for critics to begin to reckon with her actual musical legacy outside of all the extra stuff, and it was easier when she wasn't being pushed as the Next Big Thing.
Maybe, I was only aware of her early success around Tidal and the song Criminal. Perhaps it's my mistake to have perceived her as someone who was an outsider all this time, but she is far from a household name. That's why the Billboard numbers don't say all that much, as especially for her later albums these were short bursts, probably from her fans, that faded rather quickly. And nowadays, Spotify is a better gouge than the pretty dead iTunes and on Spotify the streams of Bolt Cutters are actually rather sad. Compare it with The Weeknd for example.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Holden » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:26 pm

Cold Butterfly wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:19 pm
Jackson wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:12 pm
Nassim wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:44 am
So in about a year time, she will have 5 albums out of 5 in the AM top 2000 which is quite a feat, especially for someone whose name doesn't seem to appear much in discussion about major artists. There aren't that many artists who have 100% of their discography in AM (though yes, it is a bit easier with 5 albums than with 20) or even with just 5 albums in a row ranked on AM (maybe 50 artists, tops ?) and I would guess most of them are in the AM top 50.
Fiona Apple is one of those artists where her AM scores (pre-FTBC) don't seem to accurately reflect how popular she is among contemporary critics. All of her first four albums may be in the top 2,000, but zero are in the top 500 and she also has no songs in the top 1,000. That doesn't feel quite right, and reminds me of Sleater-Kinney, who is also seemingly beloved by critics but with no top 500 albums or top 1,000 songs on AM.

Of course, Fetch the Bolt Cutters will change this for Fiona. I assume it will hit top 100 all time if it sweeps AOTY lists like it probably will.
It's because Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney have been mostly American critical favorites throughout their careers. The praise in the UK and the rest of the world for those artists haven't been as euphoric as in the US. Hopefully that will change soon - The Idler Wheel will definitely hit the top 500 in the next update, and Dig Me Out is just outside the top 500 (hopefully The Woods, which is one of my favorite albums of all time, rises up in the future rankings)

And yeah, Fetch The Bolt Cutters definitely looks like a future top 100 AM album.
I did some investigating and found that the new album entry on AM was Channel Orange entering at 125, so to me it seems that in two-three updates, if we get some all time lists from major publications, FTBC could enter the top 100, but I think that entering after its first year seems a bit difficult unless it absolutely DESTROYS EOY lists, especially since the album that scored the highest in EOY lists throughout the 2010s was Blackstar, which isn’t even in the top 150 yet.
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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Cold Butterfly » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:32 pm

Holden wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:26 pm
Cold Butterfly wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:19 pm
Jackson wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:12 pm


Fiona Apple is one of those artists where her AM scores (pre-FTBC) don't seem to accurately reflect how popular she is among contemporary critics. All of her first four albums may be in the top 2,000, but zero are in the top 500 and she also has no songs in the top 1,000. That doesn't feel quite right, and reminds me of Sleater-Kinney, who is also seemingly beloved by critics but with no top 500 albums or top 1,000 songs on AM.

Of course, Fetch the Bolt Cutters will change this for Fiona. I assume it will hit top 100 all time if it sweeps AOTY lists like it probably will.
It's because Fiona Apple and Sleater-Kinney have been mostly American critical favorites throughout their careers. The praise in the UK and the rest of the world for those artists haven't been as euphoric as in the US. Hopefully that will change soon - The Idler Wheel will definitely hit the top 500 in the next update, and Dig Me Out is just outside the top 500 (hopefully The Woods, which is one of my favorite albums of all time, rises up in the future rankings)

And yeah, Fetch The Bolt Cutters definitely looks like a future top 100 AM album.
I did some investigating and found that the new album entry on AM was Channel Orange entering at 125, so to me it seems that in two-three updates, if we get some all time lists from major publications, FTBC could enter the top 100, but I think that entering after its first year seems a bit difficult unless it absolutely DESTROYS EOY lists, especially since the album that scored the highest in EOY lists throughout the 2010s was Blackstar, which isn’t even in the top 150 yet.
I don’t think FTBC will enter the top 100 based on EOY lists alone, but i’m anticipating that there will be a few all-time lists in the next ten years who will include it, thus making it a candidate to enter the top 100.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Live in Phoenix » Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:17 am

I thought this had to be the latest that a notable artist hit their peak in terms of albums (10+ years from their debut is fairly uncommon, unless you maybe include the artist's previous groups, if they recorded). But that might be Nick Cave with Skeleton Tree, 32 years from From Her to Eternity, never mind the Boys Next Door.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jackson » Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:21 am

Live in Phoenix wrote:
Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:17 am
I thought this had to be the latest that a notable artist hit their peak in terms of albums (10+ years from their debut is fairly uncommon, unless you maybe include the artist's previous groups, if they recorded). But that might be Nick Cave with Skeleton Tree, 32 years from From Her to Eternity, never mind the Boys Next Door.
Michael Gira of Swans was 58 for The Seer and 60 for To Be Kind!

A good analogy for this album would be PJ Harvey releasing Let England Shake at 41, though it's arguable whether that album or To Bring You My Love represents her peak.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jirin » Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:53 pm

Flaming Lips peaked pretty late, no? They started in 1986 and best albums were 1999 or 2002. They were about the same age for Yoshime as Fiona Apple is now.

Also, for me Nick Cave’s peak is Abbatoir/Lyre.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Nick » Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:39 pm

Pulp formed in 1978 and didn't have their real breakthrough until Different Class in 1995.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Jirin » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:24 am

Metacritic still has her at 100 with 23 reviews.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by andyd1010 » Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:20 pm

Listyguy wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:45 pm
I'm curious what the reaction would be to Anthony Fantano giving it a 10, if that happens.
He gave it a 7/10.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Holden » Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:25 pm

Jirin wrote:
Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:53 pm
Also, for me Nick Cave’s peak is Abbatoir/Lyre.
Honestly I think Nick Cave just reached his peaked with Ghosteen. (Though can’t deny the awesomeness of both Lazarus and Skeleton Tree)
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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Matski » Sun Apr 26, 2020 8:24 pm

Nick Cave is hard to pin down - he's so darn consistent. Some love his late 80s Tender Prey era the most, others live for his mid-90s output, etc. His recent albums have received as much praise upon release as he's ever received. And I say that as someone who's slightly ambivalent towards Push the Sky and Ghosteen.

luvulongTIM wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:49 pm
Allmusic.com.com has been really slow to review a bunch of recent releases including this one. Wonder what their excuse is.
You've probably seen it by now but in case you didn't - it's finally up. I think Stephen was just taking his time. The rating is not a surprise considering his recent comments.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by luvulongTIM » Sun Apr 26, 2020 8:49 pm

🤔 Have they ever given an album 5 full stars off the bat when it’s brand new? I know with them they tend to upgrade as time passes but I’ve never seen them love something as soon as it’s released enough to give it a full fledged 5 star rating.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Matski » Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:02 pm

Only to classical releases, or very rarely by accident as was the case with Little Simz' Grey Area. It was originally given a full five-star rating (its Metacritic entry corroborates this) but when AMG's staff realised a mistake was made it was downgraded.

It's not that they don't love new releases enough to give them a full-five star rating, it's just policy: An album must withstand the test of time and continue being cited and enjoyed by critics to receive the upgrade.

I like the concept, though it's only something an online publication like AllMusic could get away with.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Krurze » Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:07 pm

luvulongTIM wrote:
Sun Apr 26, 2020 8:49 pm
🤔 Have they ever given an album 5 full stars off the bat when it’s brand new?
According to Metacritic, they have given perfect scores right away for (excluding reissues, compilations and classical stuff):

Jay-Z - The Blueprint
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Streetcore
Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
Daft Punk - Discovery
Little Simz - Grey Area
Krallice - Diotima
Nirvana - Live at Reading
Outkast - Stankonia
Basement Jaxx - Remedy
Basement Jaxx - Rooty
Shining - Blackjazz

Of these, Streetcore, Grey Area and Blackjazz have been downgraded to four-and-a-half stars in the meantime. The rest still has five stars, although of course these might have been down- and upgraded again in the meantime, too.

PS: So according to Matski, these have all been accidents (see post above). But I think at least Live at Reading has had a continuous five-star-rating, although that album of course is kind of archival by nature.

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Re: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Post by Nassim » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:00 am

Jirin wrote:
Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:24 am
Metacritic still has her at 100 with 23 reviews.
That's a blatant example of when the Metacritic score is pretty mysterious. 23 reviews, half of them are 100, half of them are not, the average definitely isn't 100 so how is that score calculated ?

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