Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters [Epic, 2020]
Since The Idler Wheel was also the most acclaimed album of its spring only to be surpassed later in 2012 by Frank Ocean and Lamar Kendrick, I was skeptical about all the 10.0 hoohah until immersion changed my mind. Overwhelming Apple's usual pianistics with riptides of the avant percussion drummer-producer Charley Drayton brought to The Idler Wheel but is now all Fiona and the software she's crushing on, the music grows on you before you realize it because it's not hooky in a hummy kind of way. Instead it's beaty, clattering like nothing I can recall and hence hard to recall itself--you have to refer back to the record. There the bite and elan of her latest love-don't-last songs will win over anyone down with both "Kick me under the table all you want/I won't shut up, I won't shut up" and the sisterly warmth that softens bite and clatter both: "Shemekia"'s fist bump to a junior high ally, "Ladies" making common cause with fellow exes, "For Her" deploying the abuse stories of a Hollywood intern she feels for. "You raped me in the same bed your daughter was born in"? Some "metaphor," wouldn't you say? A