Juvenilia by Liz Phair

Juvenilia is an EP by Liz Phair released in 1995 by Matador Records. Ostensibly a single for Jealousy, a track taken from her second album Whip-Smart (which I still listen to quite often), it also shows a more playful side to a singer/songwriter often written off by male journalists because she never quite became what they expected. Juvenilia actually shows a glimpse of the artist Liz would become years later in work like Funstyle and whitechocolatespaceegg. How does this EP stand today? Quite sturdily, in fact. It works as a good snapshot of Liz Phair’s preoccupations. First comes her attack on the ‘million dollar car man’ of Jealousy (a feeling she admits to experiencing at the sight of his drawer full of photographs of ex-girlfriends). Then a cover of Turning Japanese by The Vapors, which of course sounds great because Liz sings it like she’d sing one of her own songs. There’s no sense of her taking the piss out of the words and that’s what I like about it. She completely commits to the song, keeping a sense of fun from the original song.

Also included are Girly Sound offcuts like Batmobile (my favourite on the EP) with the opening salvo of Fire up the Batmobile, ‘cause I gotta get out of here, I don’t speak the language, and you gave me no real choice. The shivers I felt when I first heard this song! A real music moment for me. Really, it could be on Exile In Guyville and fit perfectly on an already perfect record. Other standouts on the EP include Dead Shark and South Dakota. The EP isn’t available to stream on Apple Music, so if you want to hear it and don’t already own it, you can buy Juvenila on secondhand music shops online quite reasonably. The price is worthwhile.

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