Jan 14, 2013 Issue #44 - Best of 2012 - Grimes
If the hyper-sensitive, self-aware sorrow-pop of Girls wasn't your thing, then it is strongly advised to stay far, far away from this first solo effort from former frontman Christopher Owens-the dude is wearing his heart on his sleeve here, bigtime.
A terse concept album, Lysandre follows Owens from San Francisco to New York City on Girls' first tour and into the French Riviera where he falls in love with a girl named—you guessed it—Lysandre. The 11 songs range from the sax-driven guitar pop of "New York City," where Owens basks in the buzz the Big Apple has laid upon his humble band, to the '60s California stoner nostalgia of "Here We Go Again," to the nauseatingly twee "Lysandre." Being in the throes of a passionate love affair with a sexy French girl would make anyone turn up the cheese factor, but when Owens, in his nasally, delicate Elvis Costello-like fashion, cringingly sings "kissing and hugging is the air that I breathe/I'll always make time for love," over a plucked acoustic and a Strokes-like cyclical guitar riff, it's all a bit hard to swallow. Despite a more tempered energy level and the specific subject matter, Lysandre sounds a lot like a Girls record, only with a reappearing theme riff snuck in at the end of each song and the noticeable lack of at least one badass garage stomper.
Owens is a tuneful songwriter and an earnest one. When he dissects his own thoughts, as well as those of his detractors, on the midtempo twang of "Love is in the Ear of the Listener," you get the feeling that he's being sincere and is in a genuine struggle with himself. On that song, he decides that whether or not he or others think he is talented, original or quite the opposite, he's going to continue to do what comes natural-which is to write sugary-sweet, yet insular and somber, guitar-pop songs. He's good at it. But while self-acceptance is a noble goal and Girls fans will likely rejoice at this love story of a record, Owens should know not to expect a different reaction from those who weren't on board in the first place. (www.christopherowensonline.com)
Author rating: 5.5/10
Average reader rating: 5/10