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Many things outraged us in 2003: the war in Iraq, the confluence of crony capitalism and a presidential administration, and Liz Phair working with The Matrix. Thirteen years later it’s hard to see what the fuss was about, except the last half decade has seen colleagues go gaga over Bon Iver-Kanye, James Blake-Beyonce, and Taylor Swift-everybody as if white artists on the fringes didn’t want, to use Phair’s phrase, shitloads of money, and black artists weren’t as curious about other kinds of music as white artists. It’s not my favorite Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg‘s lacquered production, Jennifer Anniston hair on the sleeve, and rueful, punchy songs amounted to the best album of Sheryl Crow’s life. And Exile in Guyville remains a top album for me. While the Stones analogies ran false, the sharpness of Phair’s scenarios didn’t. The Kmart production and dependence on electric rhythm guitar strumming — hers is one of my favorite albums on which this sound dominates — leads me to suspect she wrote wish lists and fantasies embellished after a few encounters, which doesn’t stop Guyville from piercing my heart.

1. Fuck and Run
2. 6’1″
3. Crater Lake
4. It’s Sweet
5. Uncle Alvarez
6. Divorce Song
7. Canary
8. Little Digger
9. Shitloads of Money
10. Johnny Feelgood
11. Explain It to Me
12. Girls! Girls! Girls!
13. Supernovea
14. Go On Ahead
15. Why I Lie
16. X-Ray Man
17. Canary
18. Rock Me
19. Big Tall Man
20. Mesmerizing