When fans first heard Liz Phair sing "I'll see you around" on the title track to whitechocolatespaceegg — in front of the most ornate production work of her career — some might've taken it as a fare-thee-well to the modest budgets of indie rock. Sadly, in light of the music she's released since then, it could also be seen as a bittersweet goodbye to the plainspoken charm and idiosyncratic erudition that made Liz Phair one of the best songwriters — gender and genre be damned — of the 1990s.
Despite the fact that its first iteration was rejected by Capitol Records when Phair first submitted it, the record doesn't betray any sense of either compromise or loss of creative control. Catchy tunes like "Johnny Feelgood" and "Polyester Bride" might sound big and corporately funded, but the world-weary wisdom and elliptic observations contained within are unmistakably Phair. After all, money has its advantages; Phair and her music sound as good as they've ever sounded on record, and the additional studio time served to better tracks as disparate as the wonderfully odd new-waved "Headache" and the intimate Girlysounding "Girls Room." There have been flashes of the old Phair in her most recent work, but they've been woefully few and far between. But if whitechocolatespaceegg is truly "the end," at least it was a long and tender farewell.