Lisa Germano

Excerpts from a Love Circus

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After the wrenching but rewarding Geek the Girl, Lisa Germano widens her focus and brightens her outlook on Excerpts From a Love Circus. Of course, Love Circus is a Lisa Germano album, but it's a slightly lighter take on her vulnerable, folky dream-pop: only she could make the refrain "Bruises, bruises, bruises" equally catchy and disturbing. As the title suggests, Excerpts From a Love Circus collects vignettes about hating the one you love and loving the one you hate; once again, Germano captures awkward, abstract feelings with her dreamy arrangements, hooky songwriting and unflinching lyrics. Passive-aggressive love songs like "I Love a Snot" sport flourishes like toy pianos and tablas, and incisive comments like "A Beautiful Schizophrenic"'s "I know you like my bad side/I love you like my good side." Germano's dark, self-effacing sense of humor surfaces on "Victoria's Secret," which answers the question "What is Victoria's Secret?" for once and all: "She says 'You are ugly/I am pretty/Your man wishes/You looked like me.'" Musically, Excerpts from a Love Circus is her most grounded and eclectic work since Happiness, spanning the intricate, spooky pop of "Baby on the Plane," the folky "Forget It, It's a Mystery," the menacing, Eastern-influenced "Lovesick," and the jangly "Small Heads." Germano closes the album on a gentle, hopeful note, suggesting with a trio of ballads -- "Singing to the Birds," "Messages From Sophia" and "Big Big World" -- that finding and losing love isn't the worst thing in the world, as long as you don't lose yourself in the process. It's not quite as gripping as some of her other albums, but Excerpts From a Love Circus is still a genuine, thoughtful album and a welcome addition to Germano's body of work.

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