Spiel: In it’s early(ish) days Pitchfork gave some 0.0 reviews out. Speaking about them P4k founder, Ryan Schreiber, commented that he found these records to be “devoid of worth” to him personally and stood by the rating.
Pitchfork now brands itself as “The Most Trusted Voice in Music” so WE MUST ACCEPT THEIR JUDGEMENT.
My Previous: I finally gave Liz Phair a proper listen this year and fell in love with the lofi honesty of “Exile in Guyville”. Spotify randomly played me a song from this album (HWC, which I loved and automatically made this album not a zero) so I was curious to hear more.
Pitchfork Says: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/6255-liz-phair/
Matt Le May, who wrote a boring book on Elliott Smith, actually makes a variety of fair points about Liz Phair. He mainly seems personally affronted that Liz Phair could become bland, become crude without being clever and, oh god, become a sell out.
However, Pitchy’s review of Liz’s next album states clearly: “0.0 was wasted on that album, because it’s much better than Somebody’s Miracle”. But, but, but Pitchy, you’re the most trusted voice in music, can I trust this 0.0 or not?
OK, in general this is pretty crappy early 00s radio fodder. You can definitely hear production team The Matrix’s influence throughout even if they did only work on 4 songs – musically most of this sounds like it could be sung by Avril Lavigne and there’s definitely a cynicism in the boring production and arrangement.
But honestly, would Avril Lavigne have sung “we haven’t fucked yet” in her biggest hit (As Phair does here on “Why Can’t I”)? Sk8r Boi might have been more interesting if she had. Honestly, it’s tempting to try and recast this album as an interesting subversion of early 00’s AOR pop but… nope, musically there’s not enough going on for that, it’s Liz Phair wanting a payday and that’s fine.
You could be forgiven, if half listening, of thinking it’s all just bland vaguely risque stuff, until you realise it’s not subtle. There’s a song explicitly about fucking a younger guy. There’s a song about a son imagining in great detail his mum fucking a man who’s not his dad (“Your thinking little thoughts about her taking every inch of him in”). Then there’s HWC…
Hot White Cum sort of encapsulates this album – it’s kind of awesome, it’s filthy, it’s hilarious and catchy but… there’s a terrible harmonica solo and there’s some unbelievably lazy lyrics, the first verse even has “nananana” as a line.
In the end, it’s nice to imagine a world where I could turn on Radio 2 and hear incredibly filthy lyrics hiding behind bland production. Or to imagine when every alt artist embraced their mainstream equivalent – Radio 1 playing Neutral Milk Hotel sounding like Mumford and Sons but slipping in the occasional line about malformed children in semen, perhaps?
Will I Be Listening To It Again: Oh God, no. Except for Hot White Cum which I will listen to all the time.
“I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me”
I have 69 (fnarr fnarr) of Pitchfork’s top 100 albums of the 90s. I have 74 of their best albums of the 00’s. Yet I have heard but 2 of their top 50 albums of 2012. To be honest, I’m not even 100% sure that Pitchfork is still a cool arbiter of taste.
So does this mean I’ve given up? Well, on “new” new music it kind of does. The reasons I give to myself are:
a) a lot of it isn’t very good and I can’t be bothered to sift
b) I’m busy and GBV isn’t going to listen to itself
c) “If it’s any good people will still be going on about it in a couple of years”
d) I’m so cool, I don’t have to follow trends
Sadly, d, I fear, is, the, truest.
Ween – Baby Bitch
I started off the year by moving house/towns after the disintegration of a relationship and reading the excellent 33 1/3 on Chocolate and Cheese. That album is 1. amazing but 2. almost entirely tongue in cheek… apart from this song. One of the bitterest, and most gorgeous to listen to, break up songs known to man.
Arthur Russell – This Is How We Walk On The Moon
I was vaguely aware of Arthur Russell before my friend put this on a mix cd for me. This song is beautiful, strange, a bit wonky and includes bongos. I can’t pinpoint exactly what I love about it but the lyrics are wonderful. It’s far too easily to be cynical but I can’t help agree with “each step is moving me up/this is how we walk on the moon”. There’s many interpretations (I’ve thought about it too much) but I like the literal one, we keep on trying, we work together as a race and eventually we can WALK ON THE FUCKING MOON.
Drake – Marvin’s Room
This was also on the mix cd my friend made me. I heard it, went “he’s put fucking Drake on a mix cd for me” and turned it off. The whole cd. For a month. Then I gave it another go. The visceral hate I felt for it quickly turned to fascination. I enjoy: the strange off kilter, minimal music; Drake’s masterful change from half spoken, half rapped vocals to half sung half spoken vocals; the use of phone voice (all songs would be better with this). But it was the lyrics that kept me coming back. They were vulnerable and honest but they also only revealed themselves over the fullness of time: Drake’s a jerk. He’s only interested in her because she won’t sleep with him and is willing to take her away from, by all accounts, a nice guy to do it.
Louis Armstrong – La Vie En Rose
Taught to every Frenchman* at birth, Louis Armstrong’s version is perfect. A joy.
New Order – Temptation
I was in a “club” – OK, a pub with a dancefloor – tired and wanting to go home at 1 in the morning. Not even drunk. Then this came on. I like New Order but didn’t know it. I shut my eyes and danced joyously the whole time. It was wonderful. If this sounds lame, I don’t care.
*ok French person, but Frenchman sounds so much funnier