our score: 1.5 out of 5.0
familiar with Liz Phair knows her as one of those "chick
rock" alternative girls who's hell-bent on female empowerment.
Well, anyone familiar with Exile in Guyville Liz Phair
at least... and, I suppose Whip Smart and parts of Whitechocolatespaceegg
Liz Phair too. And before I get branded as some sort of male-chauvinist,
I'll point out that the aforementioned Liz Phair (especially the
Exile one) was a damned good songwriter, a halfway decent
musician and singer, and one of the most important women in early
90s rock, period.
is, no one buys CDs from prolific, talented musicians - at least
not the majority of the CD-buying public. Liz Phair knows this,
and you can bet Capitol Records knows this. After all, 1998's
Whitechocolatespacegg, although being listed by many
(Music-Critic.com included) as one of the year's more impressive
releases only sold just over over 200,000 copies. So the question
is, what's more important - record sales, or integrity?
After a quick
listen to Phair's latest, self-titled album, the answer is abundantly
clear: record sales. The Liz Phair of the Twentieth Century is
all but dead on this new album, which may or may not bode well
for the continuation of her career. Where once lay clever ditties
about feminism and self respect now lay insipid pop rants about
being "your average, everyday, sane/psycho super-goddess"
But who's to
blame for Phair's career redirection to the pop-star lifestyle?
Well, Phair mostly... but there's also the fact that a good chunk
of Liz Phair was co-written by The Matrix - the same
writing team behind Avril Lavigne's smash hits "Complicated"
and "Sk8er Boi." And that's really what Liz Phair
(the album) is; an album from a 36 year old Avril Lavigne who
quite frankly sounds quite silly now.
are bits and pieces on the album where the respectable Phair
attempts to resurface, only to be pushed back under by glossy,
cliched production and the disappearance of her signature lyrical
smirk. "Little Digger," which recounts the first time
her son saw her with another man (after her recent divorce) chugs
along with enough emotional poignancy to get by, but is still
missing that little something that makes the listener actually
keep caring. "H.W.C." on the other hand, is a purely
idiotic attempt from Phair to retain some sort of "edge"
as she discusses the beautifying qualities of her lovers' "hot,
white cum." Now, such a move might be expected by Phair -
especially as a tongue-in-cheek move... but here it's not quite
clear this is the case and ends up seeming to be more a conversation
piece for the press and public to get worked up about.
And so, the biggest
problem with Phair's self-titled album really ends up being the
general lack of direction. Over the years, Phair has continually
lost her spark, but on Liz Phair it's all but extinguished.
There's little lyrical content worth mentioning, her voice, once
adored for its less-than-perfect quality, now sounds like Madonna
and is rattled with electronic enhancements, and the album as
a hole has a musically vapid, cookie cutter pop sound.
It's an album made for people who really like popular
rock like Avril Lavigne, post Globe Sessions Sheryl Crow,
and the "what's her schtick supposed to be" Lucy Woodward.
To put it more
plainly, it's quite a load of crap. Shame on you, Liz Phair.
liked Liz Phair...
2. Red Light Fever
3. Why Can't I?
4. It's Sweet
5. Rock Me
6. Take A Look
7. Little Digger
12. Bionic Eyes
13. Friend Of Mine
14. Good Love Never Dies