The second of Germano's brilliant song cycles, 'Excerpts From a Love Circus' is a moving, if disturbing, meditation on love and pain that is, by turns, Sylvia Plath and Sylvie Vartan. It is the tension between such polarities that makes Germano's music so haunting. A self-indulgent adolescent sense of teen-weltschmerz mixed with a brilliant gift for morbid tunefulness, mordant turns-of-phrase, and a voice that is one part wounded child, three parts arch-ironist. Just as no other contemporary artist combines the pop-form and confessional lyric quite as scathingly and - and this adds to her strength - wilfully selfindulgently, no one else manages her unnerving combination of gypsy rhythms, tacky pop, muted-thrash, and folk-tinged melodicism. Comparisons are unreliable, though useful, but for complexity of rhythms, and sheer herky-jerky dynamism in juxtaposing ideas, this is somewhere between the first Throwing Muses album and Lydia Lunch's Queen of Siam'. Vocally, the voice has enough wounded innocence to it to remind of Anita Lane, Nick Cave's ex, while, lyrically, the comparison to Plath is apposite. There is a strong degree of theatricalising of the self here, projecting a persona of pained, but bored, selfconsciousness, though enlivened by a nice line in self-deprecation.
My favourite aspect of this album, and of 'Geek the Girl' that preceded it, is the wilfull determination to turn what could have been quite catchy little commercial tunes into something perversely other. The wonderful 'Lovesick', and the charming, if nasty, 'I Love A Snot', are deliberately rescued from the threat of serious unit-shifting by alienating instrumentation and, in the case of the former, a wonderful middle-eight tribute to Yoko Ono. The loveliest song on the album is catchily titled 'We Suck' and extols the utter suckiness of true love. This album is perhaps not as disturbing as 'Geek the Girl', lacking the tape of domestic violence playing under a meditation on her own psychotic stalker, but, part-soap opera, part operatic psychodrama, it is still the perfect distillate of the society that produced, or poisoned, her.