Thursday, July 29, 2010

Liz Phair - Funstyle

I've been listening the New Liz Phair album – pretty much on a loop this past 24 hours. It is an album that some people online and many critics are already calling the 'worst album ever made', 'career suicide'… yadder yadder yadder. If you've heard that – ignore it. Funstyle (and the clue is in the title here folks) is Phair doing just that – having some fun with a mix of musical styles.

On her website (currently the only place you can buy the album – for $5.99 I got it in320k MP3 and raw WAV formats) Phair says

"Here is the thing you need to know about these songs and the ones coming next: these are all me. Love them, or hate them, but don't mistake them for anything other than an entirely personal, un-tethered-from-the-machine, free-for-all view of the world, refracted through my own crazy lens."

Quite right. This is not a polished collection of songs - and some things definitely sound better produced and arranged that others - but all the things that ever made me like Phair are all still there – including the humour, which has always been a big component – this is, after all, the woman who once asked us the give her our hot white cum (this was on her commercial 'sell out' album – which I personally loved. After Exile it remains, for me, her best record) This period of her life is actually referenced on the track And He Slayed Her where she attacks the head (Andy Slater … get it) of her then record label Capitol

The Weird Stuff (the reason for the critical response) … These are tracks with lots of talking such as U Hate It and Smoke, which reflect on the entertainment industry and her own battles with them. There is a great 'missed the boat' line in Smoke. Also, I love the juxtaposing of the screeching vocals and the chat. Bollywood is probably also included in the 'weird' group as it features Liz rapping. Yes, the rapping is bad, but I kind of think that is part of the point. It is part the character and of what makes the song a lot of fun. Beat is Up is the final of these tracks which blends more chat about creating pop music and a chorus that could be Miami Sound Machine! The thing is these songs just reminded me of Frank Zappa – whose music I love, so I don't really have a problem with them.

Satisfied and Miss September could have been on last album
You Should Know Me and Oh Bangladesh – could have been on any album pre Liz Phair
My My … is pure Lenny Kravitz. Great fun.
Bang! Bang! … this is one of the best tracks on the album. Def not a typical Liz song, but I like it.

I, for one, am glad these songs have seen the light of day. Of course it is not her best work, but this record – if you want to call it that – is a damn sight more interesting than most of the records I have heard this year. If you're the kind of person who only liked Liz low-fi back in her Exile days or only liked her when she 'sold out' then you probably wont like this. If you have liked all her stuff up until now and actually get her sense of humour I think you'll find a lot to make you smile here.