Girly Sound is (so far) Liz Clark Phair. She lives in a suburb of Chicago in her parents’ house. She’s done with college, done with the notion that she may have been the one whose life could have started with a silver step (it didn’t). For now she’s staying home and scrounging for some evidence of her existence.
In between her life she’s put out a tape of some of the most moving music made in a bedroom. The tape contains 12 songs with a homemade cover, and is mesmerizing. The arrangement throughout never varies: only her voice (double tracked) and a lone electric guitar playing made up chords, simple elements endlessly repeated until they become a sensual drawl slipping you into her short life. This is her first batch of songs and her self-consciousness shows. Being at her parents’ house she can’t possibly weigh her words with a passion that might complement her music but the result is an unbearable nervous calm that’s unsettling and beautiful.
Her singing style is a drawl, as if she’s talking into her own head about every friend, fuck or house she’s known. The evidence comes effortlessly because she’s been walking for miles now. She fills her songs with the mundane details that turn into jewels inside her hesitant mouth, a shy voice singing, “you’ve gotta have FEAR in your heart…” over and over. The mixed up guitar chords are barely enough to catch a thought or a phrase before it’s tossed away.
It’s meaningless to offer up Jandek or Daniel Johnston as comparison here despite the obvious qualifications. Girly Sound is My Bloody Valentine, is (My) Sonic Youth, it’s every immensely popular “cool” band we’ve ever spent the night listening to, digging it like a sucker. I know in some ways Liz Phair, like a lot of people would settle for popularity and recognition, a little conversation, no problem. We wouldn’t settle for anything less (meanwhile working at temp jobs, if working at all). We get high and INTO it and RELATE to our “secret personal friendships” with Pussy Galore, Galaxie 500 (i.e. our favorite whoevers), we want to appear in Sassy because we want to swoon and be swooned on. And that is the stupid heart of Girly Sound, staying up all night with a dumb dream of success.
The subtle kiss that will emerge once you get past the boo-hoo sentimental meaningfulisms is that this music is really joyful and funny. It’s not a sarcastic in-joke but it’s in the concept, get it?
She’s singing with closed eyes, “…you’ve got a lot of nerve coming here after all the times that you tried to pull the wool over my eyes and ears and nose and mouth and don’t be so in love with yourself cause I’m not… and he said you’ve got a lot of nerve painting me like I’m the villain what about all those words like ‘he’s just a friend’ what a load of bullshit…” Out of stagnant fouroclockinthechicagofuckenmornings she’s dashing out the dots of her aimless Liz Phair story, and I am AAAAAAHHH. Send her some cash for a tape, she’ll probably be up to tape #11 by the time you read this. (Liz Phair, [address withheld], Winnetka, IL 60093) – Tae Won Yu.
Chemical Imbalance Magazine, 1992