Friday, December 31, 2010

First impressions upon first listen to Liz Phair's 'Funstyle'

I tend to disown my previous decade's favorite music. Like others change wardrobes and wives, I change Favorite Music. In 1981, I rejected Classic Rawk and embraced (in turn) New Wave, post-punk, and alternative. In 1991, I embraced hip-hip, then grunge, then post-grunge. In 2001, I turned my back on commercial radio entirely and fled to free jazz, which, I predict, I will never reject. But I don't listen to much of my fav, pre-2000 music.

(Okay, I flirted briefly with Latin pop, and you might catch me still listening to Shakira.)

So, it was with GREAT reservations that I bought Liz Phair's 'Funstyle.'. "Career suicide"? Um, no thank you; I have enough of that in my own life, and besides, can she ever write anything as brilliant as "Greased Lightning," which, characteristically, was never issued on LP?  She, the shining star of my fav '90s music? It can only turn out bad.

Well, turns out that 'Funstyle' is good for all the right reasons; i.e., not for her "blow-job queen" lyrics that tricked out her initial revenge-of-the-nerdcore audience, and not for her sub-par (but still listenable) Aughts efforts. There is something about Liz Phair that has always managed to appeal to me: we are simpatico on a fundamental level--we are polarizing figures. We are loved and loathed in equal measures. Hard to know how to respond to such a world. What should we give it?  Damned if you do, damned if you don't.  So, ultimately, you're tempted to say "screw it," return to your roots and from this screwedness toss your audience a 'Funstyle.' This is what we have with Liz's latest effort. It can't be niched, and it can't be forgotten. But I predict I will be listening to it again.

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