CD Review: Liz Phair

Funstyle (Rocket Science)

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Liz Phair established a career's worth of indie cred with her 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville. She hasn't quite lived up to that swaggering estrogen-and-profanity-laced chick-rock manifesto masterpiece, but her sixth album features her most freewheeling and uninhibited set of songs since then. Funstyle kicks off with the one-two punch of "Smoke" and "Bollywood" — which sound like rap parodies but probably aren't — where Phair details her predicament in trying to stay relevant in today's youth-driven culture. The album eventually settles into more conventional pop territory, strewn with Phair's usual war-of-the-sexes observations ("I've been in this Garden of Eden a long time/And I've never seen Adam do anything I understand," she sings in "Miss September"), a funk-soul workout ("My My"), and some of her best songs in years ("Bang Bang," "And He Slayed Her"). Funstyle is typical Phair — polarizing, self-indulgent, brilliant, crappy — spread out over occasionally alien atmospheres. Baker

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