Kleenex Girl Wonder: White Lacuna  LP   (Reesonable Records)

Release date: November 16, 2018

Bio: For a word that means “gap”, the term lacuna sure has no shortage of meanings. You can find lacunae in scientific research, or gaps in the facts. There’s lacunae in old manuscripts, unfinished or damaged paintings, and esoteric texts. You find lacunae in law – gaps in what protects and punishes in equal measure. You can even find lakes called Lacuna on one of Saturn’s moons, which likely stems from the Latin word “lacus” – a water-filled gap in otherwise solid matter.

Conversely, just as lots of gaps exist in this world (and our understanding of it), the lack that defines the lacuna can be complex. Consider a recess in a relationship – a break or a breakup. Pop songs often portray these kinds of schisms as instantaneous; a black magic blast from a traitor who vanishes into the night. And the wounded lover, unable to process the loss, fills that reservoir at once with either self-pitying tears or fist-shaking rage.

Such a void is rarely so simple, though. So you’d be right to guess – if you haven’t already – that Graham Smith’s second Kleenex Girl Wonder novella in 2018 is not just another breakup album. Of course, anyone who’s spent 25 years stuffing the interstices between hooks and riffs with colloquial wit likely knows far more about lacunae than most. But on White Lacuna, Smith shows us that the gap between two people doesn’t crack open overnight – and the space in between may not be as dark as you think.

A white lacuna? That’s right. White, like the ice that settles into nooks and pushes two halves apart. White, like the colorless light that pours out of the opening. White, like the healing hoodoo of benevolent witches and wizards. White like a white lie, an omission to avoid hurt, or at least confrontation. White-out brushed over a typo – a palimpsest. “Talk about apocatastasis,” as Smith says. Through 22 pages of lyrics, KGW steers us through the natural fissures that creep into the joints, as both parties in the union realize that the split was long overdue.

But let’s face it – all of these concepts are academic unless you get some killer songs out of the bargain. And White Lacuna certainly brings the bops and slaps. “The History of Ice” casts the existential conundrum into a radio-friendly anthem that wouldn’t be out of place on an XTC album; “A Sweet Person” drips with all the southern charm of Wilco; ominous send-off “The Wet Wizard” bangs about as hard as Superchunk. Nine-minute epic “Angelina” even has an intermission of sorts – which is apt, since that’s the point in the drama when you need to sit up straight and pay attention.

As you delve into the latest KGW chronicle, consider: even when the bouts and bickering widen the chasm, does the illusion of a bridge ever fade away? Maybe love is magic, but then so is magical thinking. The beauty of White Lacuna lies in how Smith can dissect – and find dignity in – the gap.