By the time the unexpectedly bright “Strange Loop” begins, and our Guyville journey ostensibly comes to its close, we have been so immersed in the quirks, characters, and corners of this fictitious, conceptual land that Phair’s final act is to catch us off guard. If Exile in Guyville was a thriller, “Loop” would be its masterful twist ending.
Guyville’s penultimate track reinforces the acting, knowing contradiction that makes Liz Phair’s vision as a storyteller so unique, its memorable chorus succinctly encapsulating the album’s stresses, disappointments and grit without redundancy.
Exile in Guyville wraps up its "domestic nightmare" trope with “Johnny Sunshine” and “Gunshy”, back-to-back cautionary tales that recall and extend the album’s by now familiar themes of neglect, oppression, and destruction—both physical and emotional—within a coupling
“Flower” is sarcastic, silly, salacious, and solidary -- a fine reminder of what Liz Phair and Exile in Guyville offers its female listeners: the permission, if even for just a hair over two minutes, to tap into and vocalize baser instincts without the threat of stigma and with the security that you’re never doing so alone.
The next entry in the “domestic nightmare” branch of Liz Phair’s catalog, “Divorce Song” is a testament to Phair’s gifts as a storyteller and keen observer of human behaviors, emotions, and the delicate imbalances in male and female perception that can send a once thriving relationship entirely off-course.
Musically, “Girls! Girls! Girls!” is a taut, stretched rubberband of a song that comes so close to snapping but never does -- a kind of sonic blue-balling -- refusing to offer any sense of release as Phair expertly weaponizes her sexuality.
This special edition of Between the Grooves celebrates and examines the classic “Fuck and Run” by inviting a panel of women introduced to the song and its creator during the very period Liz Phair is singing about, navigating the rocky terrain of romantic relationships, self-respect, and everything in between.
In anticipation and celebration of Exile in Guyville’s 20th anniversary, Sound Affects shares its picks for the top five Girly Sound tracks, the record that formed the blueprint for Exile and later portions of Liz Phair's output.
“Canary”, the eighth track on Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, and in many ways the album’s most significant thematic and tonal turning point, makes a strong case for why a musician -- especially one with as sharp a gift for word play as Phair -- need always publicly publish her official lyrics.
If we’re to properly consider “Explain It to Me”, one of the most beloved tracks on Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, we must put it into relationship with its preceding number, “Soap Star Joe”, an oft-forgotten, discordant ditty that has all the charm and seriousness of a spaghetti western.
It’s only fitting then that “Never Said”, the lead single from Exile in Guyville and the track ostensibly chosen to introduce Liz Phair to the world, would be a song where she repeatedly, defensively, and sometimes unconvincingly swears that she “never said nothing”.
From knocking indie music scene bad boys, to riffing on the tales of Salome and John the Baptist, to re-appropriating the most taboo of anatomical vulgarities, “Dance of the Seven Veils” is a testament to the cunning complexities of Liz Phair’s composer mind.
This week's installment of Between the Grooves' journey to Guyville takes a deeper look at the brilliant sequencing of "Help Me Mary" and "Glory", the former's uncommon, spite-work prayer segueing masterfully into the spiritual and sexual awakening of the latter.