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Liz Phair 

Liz Phair

Wednesday, May 28 2003
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Do not be fooled by the lyric "Give me your hot white cum." This isn't the edgy, clever Liz Phair of Exile in Guyville, but rather a bland, barely recognizable avatar. And the song, abbreviated "H.W.C.," encapsulates everything that's wrong with this album: trite lyrics and empty stabs at shock value set to predictable pop melodies.

With her major-label debut, Phair gets help from Avril Lavigne's production team and unveils a transformation from talented indie rocker into watered-down, aspiring pop sensation. Only one explanation makes sense: After releasing two lukewarmly received follow-ups to 1993's acclaimed Exile in Guyville, Phair just wants to sell some records. But to accomplish that goal, the singer should hope that Liz Phair, her first album in five years, will attract fresh fans, because it's likely to nauseate most devotees.

"Extraordinary," the album opener, offers brief cause for optimism, as Phair interrupts the hair-metal guitar intro with a catchy melody showcasing her impressive vocal range. But the lyrics quickly descend into an apparent plea to fans to accept the new Liz: "I am extraordinary/ If you'd ever get to know me." And those lines are utter gems compared to the embarrassingly bad "Love/Hate Transmission," in which Phair spouts, "It's drugs/ It's hunger/ It's race sex and government/ Any way you look at it/ You're part of it/ You know it." Keep in mind that she's 36.

In fact, Phair seems fixated on her age, perhaps because her puzzling bid for superstardom comes so far into a respectable career. On "Rock Me," one of several songs celebrating sex with younger men, Phair delivers cringe-inducing lines like "I want to play Xbox on your floor" and "Your record collection don't exist/ You don't even know who Liz Phair is."

It's anyone's guess whether the teen crowd the singer seems to be targeting now will even care who Liz Phair is. But this release makes one thing clear: Fans waiting for the brilliant companion to Exile might as well move on.

About The Author

Nancy Einhart

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