Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Liz Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg [Matador/Capitol, 1998]
In which a girl-rock shooting star seeks recognition as nothing more but nothing less than the imaginative, eccentric singer-songwriter she always was. Her perspective remains distinctly female even when she's impersonating men. But her prim, outspoken raunch is down to a few hints, none as memorable as "Go On Ahead"'s resigned analysis of a marriage strained by the birth of a child, or "Girls' Room"'s dream of high school, or "Uncle Alvarez"'s con man hanging from the family tree. This isn't an indie babe's album, or a blowjob queen's either. It's the work of an artist testing her capacity for fictional scenarios, of an upper-middle-class woman well past worrying why she fucks and runs--in public, at least. Its spare, halting, impractical, distinct, blatantly hooked sound honors the home demo over the bar raveup because it was invented by someone who shares an indigenous habitat with record geeks--the kind of bedroom that's longer on stereo equipment than ceiling mirrors. A