For many young women, listening to Liz Phair for the first time is a come-to-Jesus moment. “I woke up alarmed,” begins the classic “Fuck and Run” from her 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville. “I didn’t know where I was at first, just that I woke up in your arms.” It’s a song about a bad one-night stand, about wanting a boyfriend, about how loneliness can seem endemic to girlhood and womanhood. On the same record, the song “Flower” is a hypnotic and super dirty plea for sex from a mean yet undeniably attractive man, detailing his physical features and everything Phair wants to do to him. Too honest to idealize, Phair’s lyrics revel in confession, chaos, and contradiction: she can be bracingly confident or shakily insecure, needy and independent all at once. Add wit and indie guitar, and Phair’s messiness is undeniably cool. She ranks among the most important women in indie and rock music. Her seventh studio album, Soberish, is one of 2021’s most exciting. —C.J.F.