One of modern rock’s most cherished artists, credited with everything from
Alanis Morissette to my love life, Liz Phair returns triumphantly to the world
of music with her first new album since 1994’s half-million-selling Whip-Smart.
whitechocolatespaceegg is at once her most interesting and assured record, full
of all the candor, insight, and chunky riffage you’ve come to expect, along
with some surprises.
Produced in separate but equal parts by Liz herself, Scott Litt (REM), and
Brad Wood (the previous two Liz albums), whitechocolatespaceegg is something
of a leap from the homespun intimacy of her other work. Its sweeping sound is
fleshed out with liberal use of keyboards and organ, ranging from the sultry
shimmy of the title track to “Polyester Bride,” perhaps Liz’s
first perfect pop song. The lyrics, too, run the gamut from the conversational
ramble for which she is perhaps best known (“What Makes You Happy”)
to a less literal, more oblique approach (“Big Tall Man”). Fans
of her honest, brash sexuality will of course be thrilled by hits like “Johnny
Feelgood” (“I never realized I was so dirty and dry/’Til he
knocked me down, started dragging me around in the back of his convertible car/And
I liked it”), while songs like “Perfect World” have a longing
and delicacy which Liz has rarely afforded herself in the past.
Liz Phair has been plenty busy in the four years since ‘Whip-Smart,’
during which time she’s seen the creative and commercial climate for female
artists flourish under her influence. The time between records allowed her to
choose only the best from a wealth of material, as opposed to the more by-the-seat-of-her-pants
attack of the previous two records. She still lives in her hometown of Chicago.