Last July, when Christopher Owens announced he was leaving the band Girls, he cited personal reasons. With the release of his solo album Lysandre this week, it’s clear that Owens has held up on his promise of keeping things personal. Lysandre feels sort of like you’re reading his diary, or maybe a Twitter feed full of cryptic updates of his daily life (@Chri55yBaby, if you’re curious). It’s super earnest, with undeniable moments of beauty, but unfortunately overwhelmingly unremarkable.


Christopher Owens
Fat Possum

Lysandre is named after a French woman with whom Owens had an affair — odd, given that his girlfriend Hannah Hunt sings backup on several tracks. The album starts off with “Lysandre’s Theme,” a 38-second-long, flute-filled lullaby that is aggravatingly peaceful.

This theme appears repeatedly in various forms of instrumentation — it shows up in “Here We Go,” then again in “New York City,” and in “A Broken Heart,” and also “Here We Go Again” and, finally, in “Riviera Rock.” Yes, it gets annoying. Yes, it feels gimmicky. Then it mysteriously vanishes for two songs, only to reappear in “Closing Theme,” which is essentially a slightly juicier “Lysandre’s Theme.”

Yet, after all this reiteration of “Lysandre’s Theme” throughout Lysandre, when you get to the actual track “Lysandre,” you’re left wondering: What’s the big deal? For a song about an ex-lover, it’s pretty freaking upbeat. It’s a simple ditty that bops along while Owens rhymes “moonlight” and “starlight,” under which he wants to kiss and dance. You can’t accuse the man of not being genuine, but honest lyrics don’t make up for the fact that they are average to the point of being silly. This is a song you might listen to when you’ve just fallen in love and forgotten about your friends, and the news, and everything that isn’t your significant other and you just want to listen to something as happy and oblivious as you feel.

So. “Lysandre” is a terrifically disappointing song, especially given that the theme of Lysandre runs rampant throughout this entire album. That being said, Christopher Owens was one half of Girls, and there’s plenty of the band’s influence that seeps in throughout the album. While the majority of Lysandre leans toward the later work of Girls (sappy, slower, emotional stuff), Owens sneaks in a few tracks that are more reminiscent of Girls’s earlier work (jamming with a heart).

One such track that makes us long for the crunchy, carefree days of Album is “New York City.” It’s a sax-filled sprint that discusses, in adorable male-female duo style, the magic of the Big Apple with lyrics pertaining to guns and knives and drugs and crime. Owens and Hunt sing about fucked-up experiences in New York City in a cheery, we-made-it, “Look at us in New York City” kind of way that successfully emphasizes the viciousness of the song and its namesake.

And yet, “New York City” is, at best, a tease. Owens’s solo work has its similarities to Girls, but it’s not Girls. There’s, of course, the consistency of Owens’s voice — soft and raw and cracking with emotion to the point of sounding like he’s about to cry. But Lysandre is even more vulnerable than the work of Girls.

In “Love is in the Ear of the Listener,” Owens offers a string of “what-if”s that wonder if he’s even got talent at all, but he also admits, “I’m not gonna control what comes out of my mouth.”

Lysandre is Owens’s heartfelt soapbox, and while it is definitively not Girls in its style, there are important similarities in the nature of its lyricism. There is however one song, “Everywhere You Knew,” that sounds suspiciously similar to Girls’s track “Broken Dreams Club” — perhaps as a nod to all of the Girls fans that will undoubtedly give Lysandre a chance.

Girls isn’t dead — it has just matured a bit (perhaps it has turned into “Women”?). Lysandre is less flashy, less playable at a party and, unfortunately, significantly less fun. These songs are no longer about being young and dumb so much as they’re about being heartbroken or falling in love with one of several soul mates. Maybe we’re just going to have to accept that Girls grew up a little too fast.

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