Lisa Germano | Review

NY TIMES | Sia Michel

Ms. Germano's music is beautifully haunted and composed

July 17, '06
in the maybe world (Young God Records)

Listening to Lisa Germano's music is a painfully intimate experience, as if a teenage girl were revealing her cutting scars in a cafeteria corner. Though Ms. Germano is in her late 40's, she has always examined her emotional life with the raw confusion of an adolescent misfit. In the mid-90's, when female rockers were roaring about empowerment, Ms. Germano was brewing her own haterade, deeming herself  'angry and dumb but not too cool' in a narcotic whisper. (See 1994's brilliant 'Geek the Girl') On 'Lullaby for a Liquid Pig' (2003) she threatens, 'I'll tell you what / It's not going to be alright.'

Her prediction was correct:  'It's all gone wrong,'  she sings on 'Too Much Space,' from her hallucinatory new recording, 'in the maybe world.' Over spare, piano-based ballads, she explores isolation and conflicted love as if she were huddling naked on a floor at 4 a.m. Ms. Germano aims for a uniform bad-dream atmosphere, keeping tempo changes to a minimum, even when Johnny Marr, a former member of the Smiths, adds guest guitar. 'I want to go into oblivion,' she confesses in a hushed, little-girl voice that is simultaneously deadened by disappointment, achingly vulnerable and bristling with passive-aggressive anger.

She is the kind of nightmare lover who pleads, 'Go to hell/I love you.' Ms. Germano's music is beautifully haunted and composed, but almost too claustrophobic to bear. This is the kind of record one would only listen to after crashing an ex's wedding, or while dialing a crisis hot line on New Year's Eve. At least  'After Monday' ends on a hopeful note: 'When you wake up it'll be O.K.'  But only until the next album.