Exile in Adultville

On "Love Is Nothing" and "Go On Ahead," Phair looks past that idyllic bliss, focusing instead on the complexities of post-honeymoon life and love and coming up with the most unblinking work of her three-album career. The former captures the doubts and fears that arrive when love's afterglow has dimmed and you're left to deal with the workaday realities of a relationship, when the little things become not so little and the good things fall too easily from sight: "Love is nothing, nothing, nothing like they say/You gotta pick up the little pieces every day."

"Go On Ahead" digs even deeper into the same ground, acknowledging the weight of parenthood ("It's a birth that's changed our lives") and the emotional ebb and flow of living together and loving together even as you're drifting slowly apart. "And it goes around in circles/One night is lovely, the next is brutal/And you and I are way over our heads with this one." It's a million miles and many years removed from the navel-gazing that marred some of Phair's early work -- dark, bitter, intensely personal yet universal for anyone who has grappled with the reality of starting a life with someone you may or may not know as well you think or hope. Liz Phair built her career on the confusion and fear that arrive unexpectedly in the search for love, but as she realizes throughout whitechocolatespaceegg, it's not always easy when you find it.

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