A Guide to This Summer’s Coolest Music—And the artists making it
SHORTLY BEFORE THE RELEASE of her first record — the remarkable self-possessed and tuneful Exile in Guyville — Liz Phair finally got around to playing it for her parents. “I prepared them,” she says, “but they were a little shocked. My mother said something like ‘Well, that was intense.'”
She probably wasn’t referring to Phair’s delectably catchy guitar pop or disarmingly cool singing. Or the audacity of her double album’s explicit song-by-song conceptual correspondence (don’t ask) to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street.
Could it have been… the lyrics? The unabashed honesty with which Phair expresses her incisive observations about sex and love includes language (“I’ll fuck you till your dick is blue,” “I’m a real cunt in spring”) sure to curl the hair of PC prisses. Phair’s verbal grit may align her with indie rock’s other strong women, but the coquettishly seductive platter defies stereotype. Music so delightful has rarely conveyed lyrics so blunt. When Phair lays a cheery plea for romance, entitled “Fuck and Run”, over an irresistible chorus that people will undoubtedly find themselves humming, her gift for subversion becomes clear.
The twenty-six-year-old Chicagoan began as a bedroom guitarist, reluctantly circulating cassettes of home-brew songs on her Girly Sound label. Her sights are set wider these days. “I write weird, dissonant chord structures sometimes, but I’m always trying to counterbalance that with disgustingly catchy pop hooks,” she says. “I’m basically trying to make the kind of stuff I want to hear on the radio.”
By Ira Robbins
Rolling Stone, July 8-22, 1993