Release Date: 06.24.03
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
Hey Guys, Remember Me?
by: bill aicher
Anyone who's 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.
The problem 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" (Extraordinary).
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.
Still, there 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. 24-Jun-2003 10:57 PM