The self-titled Liz Phair stands as her fourth studio outing and, I dare say, it's the best in a sparkling career retrospective. The laziest of my critical counterparts, however, are skimming over this new album as the second coming of Avril Lavigne, merely because Phair has polished her historic low-fi sound and hired The Matrix production team away from Avril on a few tracks. So what? Or as Liz herself would contest, "so fucking what?"
This sound is one that has been more than a decade in the making, begging for bells and whistles and a slick producer's fingers to release it. The opener, "Extraordinary," is vintage Phair with squelching reverb and sonic guitars, but now a glossy, clean fidelity to pick it up and get it noticed. "See me lickin' my lips, see the primitive fix, and I'll make, I'll make you love me," the time-tested vixen gloats, and just a time or two through this package will leave no doubt. She is extraordinary.
Sure, Avril could have stood in on such songs as "Red Light Fever" and "Take a Look" -- they're each buffed-up odes to giddy merriment. But could she really hang? Could she pack the same over-the-top punch that Phair does? The bursting single "Why Can't I ?" is perfect in every rock and roll way. It's ultra-catchy, like the bulk of the album. It's clever and intensely flirtatious ("Here we go, we're at the beginning. We haven't fucked yet, but my head's still spinning"). Damn it, I ask that any comparison to Avril Lavigne be hereby stricken from this point forward!
In the simplest conclusion, Liz Phair has been around the filthiest of blocks. As the unabashed trot "Hot White Come" will attest, this ain't your daddy's Top 40 pop record. Recall her 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville, when she crowned herself "your blowjob queen." I'm certainly not suggesting that unadorned smut translates to worthwhile rock moments (then again, it's never lost anyone but Courtney Love points in my book!). But Liz Phair will likely be in my year-end Top 10 for two reasons: the fab cut here "Favorite" and (never forget, philosopher Craig Carlson Herr) she is one hot bitch.