By James Rettig
Stereogum, October 8, 2019
The legendary Liz Phair is releasing a memoir today, Horror Stories — you can read an excerpt from it here — and she’s also releasing a brand-new song, her first new track since 2010’s Funstyle, if you don’t count this Christmas original from 2014. “Good Side” finds her reuniting with producer Brad Wood, who she teamed up with on Exile In Guyville, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg. They hadn’t worked together for 20 years before this, but now they’re nearly finished with a new album that’s due out next year.
“Good Side” finds Phair reflective and self-deprecating, backed by prickly guitar and brassy compression. It’s a song about wanting to make a lasting impression that’s positive, trying not to give into your worst instincts at the end of a relationship that could so easily devolve into pettiness and bitterness. “There’s so many ways to fuck up a life/ I’ve tried to be original,” she sings in its opening lines. “Done plenty more wrong than I ever did right/ Still I’m not a criminal.”
Phair answered a few questions for us over email. Check out that interview and listen to the new song below.
STEREOGUM: When did you start working on “Good Side?”
LIZ PHAIR: I wrote “Good Side” this spring — the first song Brad and I really latched onto during these recording sessions and the song that really set the production tone for the album.
STEREOGUM: Why did you decide to work with Brad Wood for the first time in 20 years?
PHAIR: I think the comprehensive and gorgeous reissue of my first record plus the Girly-Sound track made me nostalgic for the old days — thinking about the mindset we had when we were just starting out. I think I was curious to see what kind of music Brad and I (and Casey) would make now, on the other side of our careers.
STEREOGUM: The song seems to be about a relationship, but have you thought about how “Gonna leave you with my good side” could reflect on continuing on your legacy?
PHAIR: Yes, I think there’s a sense of counterbalancing the weight of my memoir being concerned with the darkness and haunting aspects of the past. “Good Side” captures the optimism and acceptance I feel even in the face of disappointments.
STEREOGUM: What artists have you been listening to recently?
PHAIR: FKA twigs’ new music is breathtaking. The “Holy Terrain” video entranced me. I like Kim Gordon’s complex, abstract pop on No Home Record, find it very intriguing. Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors is fantastic. Epic, almost late-stage Beatles production.
STEREOGUM: Are you working toward a new album?
PHAIR: Yes, nearly finished with new album, which we’ll drop in early spring. Worked with Brad Wood, who produced my early records. Casey Rice, engineer and guitarist on my first record Exile In Guyville, has agreed to lend us a few guitar hooks, too.
“Good Side” hits streaming services on Friday (10/11).