July 07, 2003 12:00 PM

Liz Phair (Capitol)

Critic’s Choice

Alt-rock queen Liz Phair goes pop on her radio-ready fourth album, which finds the singer-songwriter sounding like the middle sister between Sheryl Crow and Avril Lavigne. Phair especially resembles Lavigne on four tuneful tracks produced by the Matrix, the studio savants behind Lavigne’s multiplatinum debut Let Go. The Matrix-produced “Favorite,” with its crunching guitars and sexy lyrics (“You feel like my favorite underwear/ And I’m slipping you on again tonight”), is just one of many choice cuts here. Another is the folky, R.E.M.-esque ballad “Little Digger,” one of five songs produced by singer Michael Penn. But Phair hasn’t completely lost her indierock rebelliousness. On this disc’s humorous highlight, “H.W.C.,” which features Pete Yorn on guitar and drums, she issues raunchy lyrics that would make Prince blush: “You’re my secret beauty routine/ Na na na na, what my body has seen.”

BOTTOM LINE: Phab Phair

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