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“Is Green Day the Anti-Fiona Apple?!!!???”


Well, we’re certainly this month witnessing something apparently pretty special in the music world: an album, Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, that has thus far garnered a perfect Metacritic rating, 100 out of 100. To put things in perspective, this is really hard to do and no musician of whom I’m AWARE has ever achieved it, with Kendrick Lamar’s 91, 95 and 96 respectively for his last three albums and Frank Ocean’s 92 for Channel Orange. The system wasn’t around back in ’84 for Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., though, or Apple might not still be in solitary company here.

The praise has been flowing in from any and sundry outlets such as Pitchfork, which said “It creates a wild symphony of the everyday,” Rolling Stone which called it “The best work of her career” and Consequence of Sound which saw fit to tab it as “a prescient, mordant and unyielding judgement (sic) day for the wicked world around us.” Shining, glowing discursive lights seem to be traveling to pretty much all parts of it, even certain instances of recorded canine sounds, which in particular Rolling Stone calls “invigorating.”

Um, in general I’m a little bit speechless and don’t know where to start because I frankly find this record pretty appalling. I mean, calling it overly earnest would be an understatement on par with saying something like, the weather in Antarctica gets a little bit drafty.

And I don’t even know if I should attempt to list all the logical fallacies rampant in the Fetch the Bolt Cutters criticism, but here’s a little snapshot primer anyway: there’s blatant appeal to emotion gone undocumented and uncriticized (I mean do I really have to know that Fiona Apple got raped… I’ve never noticed a police badge lying around my living quarters), to unsupported claims (praise of the music itself to then abruptly switch topic to the lyrics, making no elaboration of the music’s stridencies), to what I find perhaps the most repugnant in the Pitchfork person setting up the evil straw man of the “patriarchy” and belittling it, as if it’s so objectively certain that this “patriarchy” is something real and tangible and has harmed the artist in some palpable, materialized way.

In addition to fallacies, I’m also finding straight-up, bold-faced lies, like when Pitchfork’s Jenn Pelly reports that FTBC “contains practically no conventional pop forms.” Just in my case, I have personally listened to the first two songs on this album, having generally enjoyed Apple most when she’s at her poppiest [1] like “O’ Sailor”; “Jonathan” and of course the “Across the Universe” cover by the way, and found “Shameika” to abide staunchly by a verse-chorus structure, which yes is an earmark of pop. And no, just the fact of the chorus being emphatically moribund does not obliterate its status as a chorus. It’s still the stupid, repeated thing in a song between the verses [2].

They tell us that we’re supposed to like these Fiona Apple songs because one of them has a dog barking in it. Well I’ll tell you what: the new Green Day album REMINDS me of a dog — it’s like a boxer sticking its head out the window of a car, flexing its nose muscles over and over so much that you wonder how it doesn’t have a seizure. The album is light, lithe and easy to digest: it’s full of catchy hooks that lodge themselves in your head and rip along with emphatic melodic zeal.

Pitchfork’s Jenn Pelly lauds that “Fetch the Bolt Cutters seems to almost completely turn the volume down on music history.” It’s like, ok… well I for one happen to like music and wasn’t really like viscerally craving some new firebrand to come along and just say it sucks, or whatever. And I’ll even take this one step further, because “Graffitia,” the last track on Green Day’s new album, happens actually to be a blatant ripoff of the vocal melody in Neil Young’s “Love is a Rose.” And you know what? It still rocks. And I love Green Day for loving Neil Young and writing a Neil Young song because it reminds me of good times listening to music and it’s fun, easy and stalwart. In no way did I need a new figure to come along and discredit Neil Young, or the patriarchy [3], or the history of music. These things were fine just the way they were and all the claims against them seem completely unfounded, undeveloped and asinine, as far as I’ve observed.

Of course, time will tell if this Fiona Apple record shoulders its way into the canon, and into permanence as a classic. Rolling Stone did call it her best album, which is certainly high praise over her last two. But one troubling thing I seem to notice about it is an egregious lack of influences, begging the question of whether this person even really still likes music at all, especially in light of her obstinate adhesion to unorthodox sounds and vocal techniques. All that seems to be flowing within this person, at this time, are disgust and disapproval.

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[1] What exactly would be Apple’s impetus for creating music that shirked “pop forms” on this new record? Does she just not have any catchy songs written? To stray from pop your only recourse is to delve into genre, which seeing as her implements are vocals and a piano would be the genre of something like vaudeville? So it sucks, in other words? Oh yeah, I seem to be forgetting about those life-changing dog barks. Smgdh.

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[2] Further along these lines I happen to find “Shameika” extremely racist and am bewildered that nobody else has seemed to notice that it’s basically a life plaint about a person’s only manifest encouragement coming from a black person. This Shmeika person is not developed or appreciated in any way — she doesn’t come to an endearing portrait through the song’s lyrics and she’s not real to us in any regard other than her skin color obviated by her name. It’s as if Apple’s brandishing in our faces something that’s supposed to amount to her notarized achievement of having survived going to school with blacks.

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[3] By the way if these phony, petulant feminist hags are so sick of the “patriarchy” why were most of them supporting Bernie Sanders in 2016 and buying into the hype of Hillary Clinton being a murderer in some vague, metaphysical way?

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