Phair is a strong songwriter, she writes catchy songs with lyrics that are above average. (I often liken her to PJ Harvey at times, given both have a penchant for writing lyrics from the perspective of other people. Sure, many lyricists do that but they are explicit about it.)
And I like Phair’s aesthetic; nothing is polished – though the idea that is “lo fi” strikes me as a bit silly. I mean, I guess it’s lo fi in comparison to Top 40, in comparison to post-grunge, but hardly in comparison to much else.
So I like this. But I can’t say I love it. And I’m trying to figure out why.
For one thing, though I like Phair as a songwriter, and I respect her, I can’t say I love her. For whatever reason, most of these songs do not connect with me the way, say, PJ Harvey’s songs do, or the songs of any number of other songwriters who are among my favourites. I’m not quite sure why that is. One reason would be the relative conventionality of her song structures. Another might be her lyrics just don’t connect with me.
But it’s also the arrangements. Even though I like aesthetic, most of these songs are performed pretty much as they are. It’s just a set of songs and she wants you to hear them. There are no interesting arrangements, really. That’s not to say they’re bad, just that they don’t make we sit up and take notice.
I’m not trying to be critical. It’s a good set of a songs, including a few pretty great ones. And I’d much rather listen to a record like this than one where all the warts had been removed. It just doesn’t quite move me.
All songs written by Liz Phair, except where noted.
- “White Chocolate Space Egg” (Jason Chasko, Liz Phair, Doug Stoley) – 4:35
- “Big Tall Man” (Chasko, Phair) – 3:49
- “Perfect World” – 2:15
- “Johnny Feelgood” – 3:22
- “Polyester Bride” – 4:05
- “Love Is Nothing” – 2:16
- “Baby Got Going” (Scott Litt, Phair) – 2:02
- “Uncle Alvarez” – 3:52
- “Only Son” – 5:08
- “Go on Ahead” – 2:53
- “Headache” – 2:53
- “Ride” – 3:04
- “What Makes You Happy” – 3:36
- “Fantasize” – 1:55
- “Shitloads of Money” – 3:39
- “Girls’ Room” – 1:46
- Liz Phair – guitar, piano, vocals
- Leroy Bach – acoustic bass
- Scott Bennett – organ, bass, drums
- Bill Berry – bongos
- Peter Buck – guitar
- Jason Chasko – bass, guitar, piano, drums, background vocals
- Nathan December – guitar, electric guitar
- Tommy Furar – bass
- John Hiler – organ, piano, keyboards, background vocals
- Scott Litt – acoustic guitar, bass, harmonica, violin, drums, keyboards, background vocals
- Scott McCaughey – guitar
- Mike Mills – bass
- Troy Niedhart – accordion
- Ed Tinley – guitar, clapping
- Randy Wilson – keyboards
- Brad Wood – organ, bass, guitar, drums, keyboards, background vocals, clapping, drum machine