Lisa Germano
Geek The Girl


5.0
classic

Review

by DoofusWainwright CONTRIBUTOR (83 Reviews)
January 4th, 2017 | 59 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sex with a Geek

Lisa Germano was a bit of a late bloomer only getting around to releasing her debut album at the comparatively ripe old age of thirty three. This is somewhat surprising considering she'd been playing violin since her early childhood and developed her musician's chops playing alongside John Mellencamp and touring with a number of other artists including Simple Minds. It feels like hers is a story of slowly increasing confidence and that's a theme that runs neatly alongside the subject matter of her breakout hit album, 'Geek the Girl'. How much of this album is autobiographical isn't revealed and, well, you wouldn't necessarily want to know considering the uncomfortable and raw nature of the stories told here.

There's an 'every girl' appeal to the lyrics on 'Geek the Girl' that'd surely speak to any woman who ever felt at all awkward as they approached their time of sexual awakening. I'm sure there are a small proportion of girls who take this change in stride (steady now readership) but the 'Geek' of the title certainly isn't one of them, and you'd wager she's in the majority. The first portion of the album focuses on this developmental stage and it can feel uncomfortably reminiscent of watching Bambi attempting to get to her feet while balanced on that iced over lake. Germano's instrumental backing frequently approximates music box melodies and conjures up a fairy tale atmosphere, one that at this early point of the album still sounds relatively innocent. Combined with Lisa's breathy hushed singing style the overall effect is deeply intimate with just a hint of claustrophobia. On this material Geek's concerns can seem mundane, light hearted, even frivolous. On the catchy title track she worries that she doesn't feel 'cool' and struggles on the dance floor; her audience could be forgiven for crying out 'big deal'.

Well, the middle section of the album explains why this lack of confidence and street smarts can be a big deal as Geek tumbles down the rabbit hole of early adulthood and headlong into the minefield of real sexual encounters. There are three songs here that trace a series of formative sexual moments, each acting like a twisted fantasy, that are presented as if only partially remembered while in a half removed, waking dream state. The first of these, 'Cry Wolf', is hauntingly beautiful and it can be easy to overlook the fact that in all likelihood the lyrics concern an actual or attempted date rape. The song makes it abundantly clear that Geek is getting in way over her head now, accused of leading men on and risking the wrath of the spurned party as well as her peers. Ever was it so. Things take an even darker turn on the next track '...A Psychopath' where an allegedly genuine call to the police reporting a stalker is smothered in ominous instrumentation and punctuated by creepy 'little girl lost' verses. The musical approach is reminiscent of the sort of style Mark Linkous would experiment with a year later on the Sparklehorse debut. The finale of this trio of everyday horrors is 'Sexy Little Girl Princess', a song that sees an increasingly desperate Geek giving in to the demands of men she fully knows have dubious motivations. At this stage she's resigned herself to this behaviour seeing it as her safest way of navigating this terrifying world.

The final stage of the album is a picking up of the pieces as Geek attempts to rebuild her shattered psyche. A lot of damage has been done. 'Cancer of Everything' reveals her dark and cynical sense of humour born of a hundred disappointments. It's a song and title that no doubt resonated with one Mark E. Everett as he prepared to embark on his song writing career. The final trio of tracks find Geek fantasising over finding a better man, or if not a better world altogether. This is where Germano finally lets a little light back into 'Geek the Girl' but it's still very much a bittersweet hope and barely qualifies as any sort of victory for Geek. She's not totally given up on the idea of men, and by that token a chance at love and happiness, just the reality she's confronted with.

Working back and investigating albums from an era you lived through is always fraught with dangers, particularly that of misapplied historical context. On first listening to 'Geek the Girl' you might find yourself, as I did, playing 'spot the influence' but it's only when you look at the album's release date you realise this work actually predates the Eels, Sparklehorse and many other lo fi indie pop acts of the day. It's this fact that helps cement the album as a classic; simply put the album's influence is huge and the style Germano landed on here was certainly ground-breaking for '94. On top of that the subject matter she takes on here was crying out for someone to deliver a definitive statement of some sort, all the better for it being recorded in the format of a (near) concept album. Albums that marry a perfect concept to a fresh musical approach that then, by happy chance, also find the artist in question at their most inspired are rare indeed. 'Geek the Girl' is one such album.



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user ratings (62)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
RadicalEd
January 4th 2017


8243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool review. Will check this.

Digging: Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Ed, this review finds me embracing my inner pussy hole.

Digging: mathew lee cothran - Judas Hung Himself in America

Dewinged
January 4th 2017


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Interesting. Good review doofus, somehow her name rings a bell but I don't think I've listened to any of her stuff.

Digging: Saltland - A Common Truth

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

In all seriousness I couldn't believe this didn't already have a review up.



Dunno if you like the Eels but this album sounds like the blueprint to everything that band (is it a band really?) has done.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Wrote this in half an hour, just had to break a mini dry spell so its a little rusty in places but I think it does the job ok.

Dewinged
January 4th 2017


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mmm not a big fan of Eels but I'll give it a shot anyway. Half an hour, damn, not even in my native tongue I'd be that fast.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Written on notebook on my phone sitting on the train lol



I'd spent half an hour thinking about the album and doing a little research earlier in the morning so when I come to write I have a lot of the ideas and phrases already set in my head. I hate spending more than an hour actually writing a review.



I was listening to the album writing the review which is pretty standard, rare I don't do that.

Dewinged
January 4th 2017


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I can't imagine writing a review of an album listening to another album lol. If you wrote this on the train that's a good use of your time man.

RadicalEd
January 4th 2017


8243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I always listen to the album I review. (I mean, I review rough 1 album every 10 months, but w/e)

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

What I love about this album is it really straddles that line that's present in female fantasies - does Red Riding Hood secretly want to get gobbled up by the big bad wolf? And how far could she go along with that until the reality gets too unpleasant for her.



I mean 'Cry Wolf' and 'Sexy Little Princess' are sexy songs, they have to be otherwise it wouldn't work. So the listener is forced to be complicit in that. Are you getting a little turned on by these encounters and Lisa's innocent voice?



That's why it's one of the bravest albums I've ever heard, it really forces you into that uncomfortable place. What's even better is it never gets too heavy, there's a morbid humour operating in there too.

zakalwe
January 4th 2017


21461 Comments


Sounds fucking awful

Digging: Pumarosa - The Witch

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It's the Eels dude, they stole her sound 100% - she went on to record with them.

altertide0
January 4th 2017


2913 Comments


Looks like the lyrics are a big part of the album cause I've listened to this a couple of times ignoring them and it did little for me. Not even one song stayed with me.

Digging: William Basinski - A Shadow in Time

zakalwe
January 4th 2017


21461 Comments


I'm intrigued.

The whole sexual awakening thing puts me right off. She wear converse?

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Well she was 33 when she wrote it so it's not like Avril Lavigne recording an album about that subject matter at 21. She must be mid fifties now.



Maybe the review made it sound too serious, because it's not a totally serious album.



It's not a 'girl empowerment' thing at all, it isn't preachy, just a 'modern day fable/coming of age' thing where geek gets fucked in every hole.

zakalwe
January 4th 2017


21461 Comments


Pinkerton?

Dewinged
January 4th 2017


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am liking it so far

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It could be a female Pinkerton but I have a crippling phobia of bands named Weezer so I couldn't tell you. Plus this also predates Spankerton.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It's just a window into the female mind at that stage when she's really scared of that big cock but she knows she should take it and she might even like it. Then she goes mad.



Ok, I'll stop with my Freudian analysis now.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
January 4th 2017


12990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I really should have put some of the above in the actual review ^



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