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Classic Album Review: Liz Phair | Liz Phair

The queen of indie-fuzz sets her sights on chart-topping superstardom.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Every teenager wants to be a pop star these days. But now even grownups like Liz Phair are catching the bug.

On her fourth album, the 36-year-old queen of indie-fuzz sets her sights on nothing less than chart-topping superstardom. Hooking up with Avril Lavigne hitmakers The Matrix, Phair accessorizes her strummy, simplistic, straightforward pop-rock tunes with more than enough of the necessary accouterments — arena-sized hooks, radio-ready melodies and choruses, and a heaping helping of trendy production trickery — to appeal to the today’s TRL market.

Trouble is, Liz is just too much woman to fit into Britney’s G-string, or even Avril’s wife-beater. She can sugar-coat her lyrics all she wants, but she can’t hide the attitude in her voice — or the mature, confident sexuality of these tunes. Favorite compares her boyfriend to comfortable undies, Rock Me — which I’m willing to bet started off with a different four-letter word in its title — finds Liz playing Mrs. Robinson to a younger man, and H.W.C. is an unabashed ode to a male bodily fluid (those first two initials stand for Hot and White; I assume you can take it from there).

So what you end up with on Liz Phair are a bunch of songs that are probably too poppy for her aging alt-rock fans, too mature to appeal to the teens they’re produced for, and too dirty to gain the mass exposure they need to earn her the stardom she appears to crave. Seems like Phair is going to learn the same lesson as millions of wannabe popstars — becoming an American idol is tougher than it looks.

 

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