Liz Phair continues to challenge her fans who are still expecting for her to return to the early form of Exile in Guyville—you may have to wait longer folks, Funstyle, her sixth album, is an eclectic album to say the least. Certainly it’s not the slick mainstream pop from her last two albums, but it adapts more contemporary sounds such as rap and funk. Phair acknowledges that what she is doing musically is against type and addresses it satirically with “Smoke” and “U Hate It” with spoken word dialogue and humorous references. Another track in that critical vein, “Bollywood,” which finds Phair rapping, caused a considerable buzz over the summer when Funstyle was first available as a download. It may have left an impression on some folks at the time, but it shouldn’t take away from the rest of the album, which has some pretty strong tracks: the tender ballad “You Should Know Me,” the heartfelt and poppy “Satisfied,” and “And He Slayed Her,” which recalls her early Exile work. Funstyle is again a different-sounding effort for Phair, may be not the album the old fans hoped to expect, but it also offers some really solid moments too and should stand on its own.
Still, perhaps as an overture to her early fans, Phair also offers up a bonus disc called Girlysound, which contains demo tracks recorded before Exile, and they are divine: pure, raw songs that just featuring Phair and guitar. Some of the standout tracks such as the pointed “White Babies” and “Miss Mary Mack” display some of her typical witty sass, while “In Love With Yourself” and “Love Song” are quite affecting.