This bolt out of the blue over the July 4th weekend was shockingly unexpected, and a reason to cheer. I really didn’t want Somebody’s Miracle, a good but not great album, and slightly underrated because it’s a little too polished, to be her final statement. So I downloaded Funstyle ASAP.
The album is a mess. It’s a jumble of songs that don’t cohere, but that is one reason why the album is so great. It lives up to it’s name big time, it’s playful like Girly Sounds was, adult like the best songs on Somebody’s Miracle were, and just a blast to listen to, with every song having something cool to offer.
While Phair is no rapper, it’s fun to hear her try on “Bollywood.” There is the smoothness of “And He Slayed Her” where she gives Andy Slater, a former Capitol Records executive that Liz doesn’t think much of, a musical slap in the face, and “U hate It,” a wickedly funny song that at the end has the “thank yous” for the album presented as if she’s won an award.
“U Hate It” like a few other songs on the album, take on the backlash that she’s been unfairly living with since her 2003 self-titled album, the slick one which had critics screaming “sell-out.” But that album, heard now, doesn’t seem too different from her other work, and holds up very well. Liz had moved on from albums like Exile in Guyville and WhiteChoclateSpaceEgg, simply because she wasn’t in her 20s or early 30s anymore, and wasn’t about to be forced to be those ages again.
Net critics like Pitchfork are trying to continue that backlash, but don’t believe the anti-hype on Funstyle. It’s a damn fine album--funny, rocking, and pure Liz. And that’s all that’s needed. [www.lizphair.com]. And at [www.mesmerizingtoo.com/mesmerizing_interview_07-10-2010.html] a wondeful interview with Liz.
This isn’t a bad album--nice, pleasing to hear, melodic, with friendly lyrics, which are also somewhat sappy. This band’s idea of Brit-folk is to sound like Mumford and Sons without that band’s white knuckle rage and fatalism, but if Stornoway got angry just once about something they would be a lot better and more interesting to hear. Still and all, this debut shows promise. For all the sappiness they’re also thoughtful in a way Mumford and Sons aren’t, and in the end likeable as well.