Liz Phair’s latest offering is the self-released “Funstyle” was her first album in almost five years. The entire 11 song album is available for download on her website for about $5.99. The first sample for download was the terrifically bizarre “Bollywood”. Against her backbeat of weird, broad-stroking and stereotypical Indian pop, Phair…raps about the time she got talked into penning music for cable television. If it sounds weird and uncomfortable….it was. It felt like a desperate play for relevance in the post M.I.A. pop world. I consider myself a fan of Phair’s whole catalog. I mean, come on, Exile in Guyville was the best, and whitechocolatespaceegg
was criminally underrated. But, she’s rapping. I don’t get it.
Upon another listen of Funstyle, which isn’t her worst, but definitely her most bizarre, maybe it’s not so bad. It’s certainly not Exile, but it is funny, even entertaining and presents some seriously feminist moments, even more that whitechocolate. On “Smoke” Phair isn’t on the list when she gets turned down for an exclusive club, she helplessly croons about not knowing John Mayer. “And He Slayed Her” is a song that straddles the fence between serious and joke, taking on the latest vampire loving trend. “U Hate It” sets up the fat fingered record execs where Phair defends her work from under layers of soulful dance-pop.
Is she tossing her credibility? Is this a joke collection, the perfect way to pack up her career? Hard to say. I think this less a new beginning and more a clever, albeit largely misunderstood joke. If she’s going for a cuter, less silly Weird Al, then I’m in. If it’s for real and she’s attempting to keep up with Ke$ha or Katy, I say, please don’t.