Yesterday was about praising Liz Phair, so I guess today we present the counterpoint. Or rather, this is Phair a few years later when her musical output transformed indie coolness with a “personal mileage may vary” disclaimer to downright terrible stabs at mainstream success. The was a review I wrote for The Independent Journal, a newspaper overseen by the irrepressible Dave Plotkin. I think of this as the first one I did for that particular publication, but I could be wrong about that.
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard that voice. Lilting and aggressive, a voice capable of making threats and boasts sound like sweet nothings, a voice that seemingly has — sadly, shockingly — nothingto say anymore. It’s been ten years since Exile in Guyville got critics all giddy about the sound of girl cursing on a record, and five years since the mature, crafty whitechocolatespaceegg got her little attention from those prior boosters. She’s apparently spent the interim deciding that it’s time to try and move some product. Four tracks bear the officious, neon fingerprints of the producing team that perpetrated Avril Lavigne’s hits, and many of the other offerings hew to the same airplay-at-all-costs aesthetic. There’s still the occasional minor triumph of offhand catchiness (“It’s Sweet,” “Firewalker”), but the standard here is closer to the embarrassing underwear metaphors of “Favorite” or the simpering post-divorce parenting confessional “Little Digger.”