Your Choice Way

Liz Phair - Soberish Music Album Reviews

Liz Phair - Soberish Music Album Reviews
The alt-rock icon returns with tasteful, timeless rock arrangements on a record about friendship, sobriety, and the love she’d like to receive.

Soberish is Liz Phair’s first album in 11 years. There is a lot riding on this one. Her 1993 debut Exile in Guyville is an enduring alt-rock touchstone. Her mid-2000s foray into radio-friendly pop? Not so much. Unlike certain other artists for whom this is true—say, Weezer—Phair largely took the 2010s off. She reissued Guyville, with an excellent box set of early bedroom recordings, and toured on it. She worked, for a while, on a song-by-song response to the Beatles’ White Album. After several women accused the record’s would-be producer of sexual abuse, Phair scrapped it. And thank God for that: Soberish is far more honest, forthright, and heartfelt than any concept album. It is a solid, sharply written record of sturdy, enjoyable songs that gradually unfold to reveal new depths of feeling.

It doesn’t sound like Guyville, not even with Guyville producer Brad Wood at the helm. It doesn’t sound like the glossy “Why Can’t I,” which is really not such a bad song. It doesn’t, mercifully, sound anything like the frenzied rap stylings of “Bollywood.” Instead, Phair opts for tasteful, timeless rock arrangements. She hones in on a few key themes: falling in love at 54, falling out of it; falling into bars, hauling herself out of them. She is refreshingly frank about her struggles with sobriety, firm and empathetic when she refers her friends to recovery. It’s like Brandy Jensen’s beloved Ask a Fuck-Up column; you trust Phair’s advice because you know she’s seen the bottom of the barrel.

The obvious highlight here is “Hey Lou.” It’s an intervention set to song, built on crisp couplets: “No one knows what to think when you’re acting like an asshole/Spilling all the drinks, talking shit about Warhol.” It barrels along at top tongue-wagging speed, Phair sounding every inch the weary mom-friend—“I’m not running a zoo here!”—until, abruptly, she lets the song fall apart. The punchy guitars and drums drop, and her voice repeats the same line, washing over itself in dense layers: “How did that work out for you? How did that work out for you?” It’s tough in the way “Divorce Song” is tough; there is tenderness and fragility in every word she sings.

Elsewhere, she’s concerned less with friendship and more with love—losing it, gaining it, looking back on it with the perspective that only 50 years of life can bring. She’s been burned, but she’s also burned others. Her priority now, it seems, is simply to move forward. She makes amends (“Good Side”), avoids old date-night haunts (“Spanish Doors”), and imagines the kind of love she’d like to receive. In the stunning, stripped-down “Lonely Street,” she sings to herself, pretending the words are her lover’s: “I’ve gotta run/I’ve been missing you, girl, like the sun.” There are no “Flower” or “Hot White Cum”-level come-ons here, but she’s still unapologetic about her sexual appetites. “We’re gonna go on up to my hotel room, make each other late,” she sings, on the sweet, gentle “Ba Ba Ba.” Her next rhyme is “I don’t have the guts to tell you that I feel great/I feel safe.”

There is much to love on this record, and only a little to skip past. The use of programmed drums and synths occasionally distracts from the substance of Phair’s lyrics, and from her unvarnished guitar. Poor mixing keeps the chorus of “Spanish Doors” from fully blasting off; the Haim-lite backing vocals come to the fore, and Phair’s leading melody is nearly inaudible. “Dosage” is a tad too shiny for its dark subject material, and “Soul Sucker” collapses under the weight of its experimental concept. I caught myself cringing, too, at the overtly sexual opening of “Bad Kitty,” before Phair herself chastised me in the chorus: “I don’t live in a world that appreciates me.”

In her 2020 Netflix documentary, Taylor Swift fretted about the prospect of turning 30. “Women in entertainment are discarded in an elephant graveyard by the time they’re 35,” she said. “As I’m reaching 30, I’m like, I want to work really hard while society is still tolerating me being successful.” Swift may well have learned this fear by watching the arc of Phair’s career. The girl who made Guyville is preserved in amber; the woman who made Liz Phair became a punchline. Soberish succeeds largely because Phair is no longer asking for tolerance. She is simply, fully, being herself.
Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Liz Phair - Soberish Music Album Reviews Liz Phair - Soberish Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Sunday, June 06, 2021 Rating: 5

0 comments:

Post a Comment