Left-of-center pop waif Lisa Germano has probably been tagged a “freak” more than once in her life. Amusing, then, that not long into her seventh album, In The Maybe World, she repeats “one of us” as either relentless homage to Tod Browning’s classic Freaks or uncomfortable affirmation. It’s ironic, too, that Germano would land at one of the flagship freak-folk record labels at this stage in her career; she’s arguably pioneered the idiosyncratic brand of thoughtful, if slightly downright bizarre, music popularized by the likes of Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart. Her precious, oddly orchestrated worldview makes for fascinating, poignant, and precisely damaged listening; the album feels like the sonic diary of a shy art-school outcast. Songs like “Too Much Space,” “Moon in Hell,” and the astral title track suggest a quaint music box going full-tilt under black lights and disco balls—calming and engaging on the one hand, unnerving and eccentric on the other. Germano’s gift lies in being able to splice together disparate elements, creating a unique whole that doesn’t fade away easily. That’s not to suggest that Germano created an impenetrable experience. Far from it. The odd bit of atonal piano and startling electronic noise aside, In The Maybe World is an accessible, if lyrically opaque, work that should please fans of avant-pop that doesn’t sound remotely like any of the other cerebral chanteuses out there.
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