Fiona Apple released her highly-anticipated fifth album Fetch the Bolt Cutters on Friday, and there are almost too many biting, unforgettable one-liners to count. Apple has always been a deft lyricist, but Bolt Cutters brings her to new heights. She confronts feelings both new and old with a fresh ferocity and brings scathing takedowns upon anyone who may try to quiet her. There’s a chance we’ve never needed Fiona Apple more than we do right now, and the singer delivered. While it was difficult to even narrow it down, here are a few of the most memorable lyrics from Fetch the Bolt Cutters.
“I would beg to disagree / But begging disagrees with me” (“Under The Table”)
Wordplay? More like putting words to work. Apple breaks down an unfortunate evening spent at a stuffy dinner party on “Under The Table,” and its definitive intro is one of the album’s most telling lyrics. This entire song is full of lyrical prowess, but another of the most memorable lines declares, “I’d like to buy you a pair of pillow-soled hiking boots / To help you with your climb / Or rather, to help the bodies that you step over along your route / So they won’t hurt like mine.” Pardon the pun, but I’m shaking in my boots.
“You get dragged down, down to the same spot enough times in a row / The bottom begins to feel like the only safe place that you know” (“Heavy Balloon”)
“Heavy Balloon” is one of the best songs on an album full of them, but there’s something especially urgent in Apple’s delivery here. “I spread like strawberries / I climb like peas and beans,” she shouts frantically. She is fed up, and you can tell. But this song goes beyond personal frustrations or entrapments: When Apple sings, “You get dragged down, down to the same spot enough times in a row / The bottom begins to feel like the only safe place that you know,” she’s offering a striking metaphor for the dangers of our class structure.
“Shameika said I have potential!” (“Shameika”)
This whirlwind stunner was immediately one of Fetch the Bolt Cutters’s buzziest and most meme-able songs. It just makes you want to shout from the rooftops, “Shamieka said I have potential!” It’s a rare and wild glimpse into Fiona Apple’s childhood and finds her exploring the paradox that is her own personality: “I’m pissed off, funny, and warm,” she sings.
“Evil is a relay sport, when the one who’s burned, turns to pass the torch” (“Relay”)
Protestor Fiona Apple is awake and angry again on the brilliant “Relay,” which smartly sums up the cyclical nature of oppression with some of the best poetry on Fetch. She begins the song with the repeated line, “Evil is a relay sport, when the one who’s burned, turns to pass the torch,” but later finds herself even more on-edge, shouting, “I resent you for being so sure / I resent you for presenting your life like a fucking propaganda brochure!” Whether it’s a takedown of an American politician, an influencer with her head in the clouds or someone else entirely, it works like a giant “You Suck!” to any selfish airhead chasing after only what brings them pleasure.
“I gave you pictures and cards on non-holidays / And it wasn’t because I was bored” (“Rack of His”)
Many of Fetch the Bolt Cutters’ songs begin right off the bat with a firecracker couplet, and “Rack of His” is no different. Apple describes the feeling of wanting to do nice things for someone without the need for an occasion, singing “I gave you pictures and cards on non-holidays / And it wasn’t because I was bored.” The reason? “Because I was loving you so much,” she soulfully sings. Unfortunately, based on this song’s mood (and Apple’s tell-all breakdown in Vulture), the relationship(s) described here didn’t pan out so well. But that’s always the risk in diving head-first with someone new: time wasted.
“Fetch the bolt cutters / I’ve been in here too long” (“Fetch the Bolt Cutters”)
Apple says it best herself: The message of this song, and the record at large is “fetch the fucking bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation that you’re in — whatever it is that you don’t like.” This lyric is the entire record’s rallying cry, and whether it’s a dead-end relationship, an abusive partnership, an awful job or something else—get your bolt cutters and amputate yourself from the situation.
“Ladies, ladies, ladies, ladies…” (“Ladies”)
Ladies: We can’t make each other the enemy—Fiona Apple forbids it! Her delivery alone of this song’s titular lyric deserves recognition, but listen to the entire song and you’ll find yourself floating away on a river of Apple’s drowsy singsong, which is actually just a long way of saying “Men are garbage.”
“The drumset is gone / And the rug it was on / Is still here screaming at me / Why did you take it all away?” (“Drumset”)
Just when you think there aren’t any more ways to write a “this-stuff-still-reminds-me-of-you” breakup song, Fiona Apple scrambles the formula and gives us this masterpiece: “The drumset is gone / and the rug it was on / is still here screaming at me.” Wow, have inanimate objects ever sounded so conniving. Only Fiona Apple could make a carpet sound like your worst nightmare.