The second album by American multi-instrumentalist Lisa Germano was one of the first things I was sent as a fanzine reviewer. It was initially released on Capitol in 1993, but re-released on 4AD with a different track order in 1994. It’s all there: the barely-there vocals, acoustic guitars – but just beneath the surface is a barbed, sour sarcasm that makes this confection all the more delicious.
“If I were your puppet, we’d get along just fine,” she sings on one of the stand-out tracks, and passive aggression is a running theme here. Other highlights include Everyone’s Victim and Sycophant – she’s clearly quite angry with someone.
It always surprised me that Germano wasn’t more popular, since Happiness was both accessible and interesting. She should have ridden the wave of Alanis Morrissette and Tori Amos-style snarky songwriters, but for whatever reason, just never quite took off. It’s a shame, because this is good. Non-standard instrumentation (such as the ever-present violin) and eclectic, intricate arrangements are what makes this unusual and compelling listening.
I lost my CD after a house move, and bought it again on MP3 as soon as I realised it was missing. I think that tells you all you need to know.