The Designer’s Drugs: Liz Phair – Funstyle

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Liz Phair – Funstyle

Anno: 2010


Jesus, this album is bitter.  When Liz Phair sticks to the actual process of writing songs and making music on Funstyle, it’s a wide array of conventional pop music.  There’s little to get excited about, but the album is diverse and slick enough to avoid boredom.  The moody electro-piano track, “Bang! Bang!” is Funstyle’s best track, even if it does sound a bit like Sneaker Pimps meets the instrumental side of Nine Inch Nails.  Add to this a bonus disc featuring old acoustic recordings (including a memorable tune about the white baby black market), and this might have been a good find.

However, this is all torpedoed by the moments in which Phair decides to turn Funstyle into a concept album about getting older and being forgotten by the music industry.  A full fourth of the main disc plays like a series of indignant skits, despite the fact that there is music playing in the background and they are technically songs.  That these tracks are found on both ends of the album colors the entire album into a hate letter written by a fallen princess.

Here’s an idea, applicable here but also to any musician: instead of wasting time whining about how people don’t respect you as an artist, why not shut them up with some convincing evidence?  In this case, Funstyle could have been so much better if Phair had simply acted like a musician and controlled her urge to feed the trolls.

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