Liz Phair
Exile In Guyville


5.0
classic

Review

by Scott Herren USER (42 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist


Released: 1993

Rolling Stone album #328

Although she was never able to quite break into the mainstream, Liz Phair was the artist that was at least partly responsible for the female singer/songwriter scene that materialized during the mid to late 90's. Her debut album, Exile In Guyville fuses lo-fi indie rock with the classic singer/songwriter structure. The double album, the title taken from an Urge Overkill song, was claimed to be a response to the Rolling Stones' classic album Exile on Main St., and the pattern is evident, although it is difficult to make a song by song comparison.

While Exile was hailed by critics, and topped many best of the year lists, Phair was resented by many of her peers, including Big Black's Steve Albini, who launched attacks against Phair and her record. Nevertheless, the success of this record continued, and rightly so. Phair has had several albums after Exile In Guyville, but none are very strong, and she didn't stay in the spotlight for very long. By 1995 she had retreated from the public life and married. Luckily her debut album has more staying power than she did.

This is an album that is difficult to file into one genre. There are elements of hard rock, solo piano, power pop, art rock, folk, and classic indie rock. One of the reasons that the album is so great is that Liz had built up so much material prior to her "debut", that this was essentially just the cream of the crop from that material, and thus it is more like a greatest hits album.

Another strength is the way that the lyrics match the music. The lyrics are pretty blunt and vivid and, as evidenced by song titles like "Fuck and Run" and "The Divorce Song", there seems to be nothing off limits within the lyrics. There are issues delved into on this album, specifically sexual ones, that had not been addressed in pop music at the time. There is also nothing off limits musically. Each song maintains a very high level of quality, and it is no surprise that she was never able to equal the greatness of this record.

Credits:

Liz Phair - Guitar, Arranger, Vocals, Producer, Design
Casey Rice - Guitar, Cymbals, Backing Vocals, Handclapping
Brad Wood - Organ, Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Bongos, Drums, Backing Vocals, Producer, Engineer, Drones, Feedback

Notables:

6' 1"
Help Me Mary
Never Said
Fuck and Run
Divorce Song
Flower
Stratford-On-Guy

If there is a demand for a track by track review, let me know and I will do one, but pretty much every song is exceptional as already noted, and I don't think I would do justice to the songs.

Recommended for fans of:
Cat Power
The Cardigans
PJ Harvey

This is one of the few albums that I can listen to front to back without skipping a song. This is an exceptional feat, especially for an album containing 18 tracks. Exile in Guyville also has a fresh feel to it that is lacking in many of her successors in the female singer/songwriter realm. It is almost an essential album for everyone.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
moderaterock222
November 29th 2004


121 Comments


Didn't she make a song called something like 'hot white cum' or something. I've heard that, it was meh but it gave me a semi.

Scott Herren
November 29th 2004


192 Comments


The song you are thinking of is H.W.C. off of her new album. Her new album isn't that good.

looozer
November 29th 2004


24 Comments


This is a pretty good album. I can listen through it, but I prefer to skip some of the tracks. It's too bad that Liz has changed for the worse

You have good musical taste. *Worships Scott Herren's shoegaze-ness*

bruise_pristine
November 29th 2004


66 Comments


I have always enjoyed this album, but Whip-Smart is just a good if not better IMO.

zane1234s
November 30th 2007


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is my 2nd favorite album, right behind Hole's Live Through This. Every track here is exceptional. "Fuck and Run" and "Divorce Song" bare Phair's honest, poignant lyrics. "Flower" and "Girls! Girls! Girls!" are Phair plainly just wanting what everybody wants: sex. She's serious, but humorous; light, but heavy. This definitly was the best album of 1993, surpassing Nirvana's In Utero.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 14th 2008


3907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is such a fantastic album, more people really need to hear it.

Digging: Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears

nikki2010
June 19th 2010


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really liked this album defiantly her best album...... new stuf blows!!

favorite song = fuck and run

Sayed
July 23rd 2010


8 Comments


This albums really good. Sadly it is not very well known....

starry
November 17th 2010


552 Comments


This is overrated. When I first heard it during the 90s I did find it interesting at first I must admit. However listening to it again a few years ago I didn't like it. Hearing some songs again just now I still don't like it. Her vocal is quite strong but the music is just forgettable mainly, no real melody or invention through most of this.

BigHans
December 29th 2011


29348 Comments


fuck and run, fuck and run

even when I was 12.

Creepy.

chtrenne
August 19th 2012


77 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Ugh... she became such a joke... but this is perfect. It captures every angsty detail of the 90s-white-girl while still remaining relevant in 2012.

ezzomania
January 28th 2013


409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anything made in the 90s was awesome. Definitely the golden age for music in my opinion. This would be Miley Cyrus today (and is, I guess, cuz Liz sucks now)

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
June 1st 2014


3907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Still awesome.

Snake.
June 1st 2014


20751 Comments


only one review for this? shit....

jtswope
February 7th 2015


5784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

He's just a hero in a long line of heroes...

Gestapo
June 28th 2015


1334 Comments


nice

TVC15
February 13th 2018


9646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yeah this album

Digging: Dance With the Dead - B-Sides: Vol. 1

GetLow
February 13th 2018


2091 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for bumping. This looks interesting.

lemonsuck
July 12th 2018


5 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is amazing the whole way through. Shocked it hasn't gotten much attention on this site.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2018


16249 Comments


“Never said” is eternal



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