At the moment when much of the world is isolating indoors, Fiona Apple has come to break us out. Much of Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Apple’s first album in eight years and only her third in 20, was recorded in her home, its songs built up from clattering percussion tracks that sound as if they could have been pulled together using household objects. Barking dogs and the occasional mewing cat—sounds that have lately become more familiar to many of us than ever—barge in as if she’s left the studio door ajar, and sometimes strange, unidentifiable sounds leak in at the edges, as if her neighbors have left the TV on too loud. It’s an album about confinement, but also about escaping from it, and how even when you’re alone, by circumstance or by choice, the world is never far away.

In a New Yorker profile last month, Emily Nussbaum wrote that Apple “rarely leaves her tranquil house, in Venice Beach, other than to take early-morning walks on the beach with [her dog] Mercy.” Fetch the Bolt Cutters’ title comes from a scene in the British crime show The Fall, and the lyrics to the song “Heavy Balloon” were inspired by the Showtime series The Affair, which means Fiona Apple has been spending the past eight years the way you and I have been spending the past month: sitting inside and binge-watching TV. She’s also been stewing over her past, like the childhood bully who taunts her in “Shameika,” or the “cool kids” in the title track who “voted to get rid of me” and “stole my fun.” But she’s not just perseverating or picking at old wounds. She’s writing as someone who’s learned that the only way out is through, and even after decades, it can feel like the journey is just beginning.

Apple has been hinting at Bolt Cutters’ release for a year, so it can’t really be classed with the recent boomlet in socially isolated art, but her decision to release it when so many artists have pushed their spring releases to fall feels both generous and purposeful, and the reaction has been gratitude verging on canonization. I had to scour my social feeds for so much as a single hedged comment about the album, which Pitchfork awarded a perfect 10.0—only the 12th time that’s happened on an album’s initial release. (Notably, one of the other instances was Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which was released on Sept. 18, 2001, and, like Bolt Cutters, was an album that landed in the midst of a national crisis it seemed inadvertently made for.) From its ominous title and garish cover art on down, Bolt Cutters doesn’t feel like an album that wants to be universally beloved: It’s prickly and off-putting and proud of it. On “Under the Table,” Apple sings about being the ill-behaved guest at a dinner party, the one who has a little too much to drink and starts shooting off at the mouth. But at this point, we’re just happy to have guests, even imaginary ones, and in an emergency, the battle-worn Apple, recounting war stories and full of righteous anger, can make for an oddly comforting presence. “I’m pissed off, funny, and warm,” she rhymes. “I’m a good man in a storm.”

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