Chris Owens, songwriter, singer and guitarist, formerly of the band Girls, has released his first solo album since leaving the San Francisco group this past summer. Lysandre is a love story, with the same awesome effect as a Girls record. By merely closing your eyes you can be swiftly picked up and away from cold, bleak Winnipeg and find yourself catching some waves on a San Francisco beach in 1964, drinking coke out of a glass bottle. While Owens maintains much of what made the two Girls’ albums and one EP so impressive and different – such as their blatantly catchy tunes, sought-after guitar tone, and new love songs that sound like old love songs – Lysandre at times comes off as gimmicky, overdone, and simply too upbeat and happy.
Owens dismisses much of the dreaminess of his past work and replaces the ethereal with in-your-face love songs. At the start, “Riviera Rock” sounds to be an impressive and fun instrumental track but quickly begins to sound like a theme song from a Little Mermaid sequel. Tracks like “Here We Go Again” and “New York City” are excellent beach pop songs but the number of “ooh la las” is overwhelming at times.
When Girls was at its very best and most interesting, Owens’ troubled childhood and his persistent feelings of fear came through in darker questioning songs that were unwound with phased out distortion and organ, while still expressing love and optimism. In Lysandre’s weakest track “Love is in the Ear of the Listener,” Owens sings “what if people are sick of hearing love songs, maybe I should just sing about dying.” It would be nice if he could go back to doing both. (Fat Possum, fatpossum.com) Gilad Carrol