Which Liz Phair will show up this time?

It’s annoying when people talk about rock musicians as brands, but in the case of Liz Phair, it’s hard not to. After earning the loyalty of her customer (indie fan) base in the 1990s, she completely changed her product (music) for her last album, and ended up getting pasted with outrage and scorn. (The self-titled album scored a 0.0 on Pitchfork’s scale from 0 to 10, and a New York Times writer called it “an embarrassing form of career suicide.”) So now that Phair has a new album due out in October, people are naturally wondering, which brand of Liz Phair will they get this time? In interviews, Phair refuses to apologize for her 2003 record (did anyone ever apologize for New Coke?) but does hint that the new songs, while not a return to the “old” Liz Phair, might be a little more worthwhile. “I wanted to just put a little more soul into what I was doing,” she says. On the other hand, even if the new album does turn out to be Coke Classic, some people seem to have moved on to Pepsi for good.

—Posted by Tim Nudd