Review: Christopher Owens’ new album is promising

Abbi Pittman

Editor’s note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

The recently dissolved independent rock band known as Girls released only two albums and an EP. Their discography adds up to only a little over two hours of music.

Still, the output of singer-songwriter Christopher Owens’ former band was thrilling and catchy, widely critically acclaimed, but deeply personal. Girls’ 2011 record, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” found the band at a creative peak unrivaled by its contemporaries.

The independent music community was stumped when Owens decided to break up the group of which he was ostensibly the driving force. They’re likely to be further confused by Owens’ newest endeavor, the slight, EP-length solo album “Lysandre.”

However, what Girls fans are left with are three excellent releases and the possibility of widely varying and interesting future projects.

Although “Lysandre” isn’t exactly the powerhouse of a solo album some might have been expecting, it’s a pleasant, catchy and meandering song cycle that functions well enough as a piece to warrant repeated listens.

Strung together by a frequently reprised 30-second instrumental theme that opens the album, the most notable aspects of “Lysandre” are the prominent use of flute and saxophone, as well as a clean, polished and comparatively minimalist production style.

Owens intended this as a concept album about a French girl, who the album is named after. The musician apparently fell in love on Girls’ first tour in 2008 and uses that story here as a sort of coming-of-age story.

This concept works more often than not thanks to “Lysandre’s” swift 28-minute runtime and the songs’ tendency to flow into each other.

However, most notably on “Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener” and the title track, the arrangements occasionally lack emotional weight and Owens’ lyrics sometimes seem uncharacteristically tossed-off.

That said, Owens packs a lot of interesting and sometimes excellent tangents into the album’s scattered, slim running time.

The opening one-two punch of “Here We Go” and “New York City” is especially fun, with the former scrawling flute flourishes and noisy guitar bursts over a taut acoustic ballad and the latter appropriating almost comically bombastic saxophone for an energetic, entertaining rocker.

“A Broken Heart” and “Everywhere You Knew” prove that Owens can still flip a simple guitar arpeggio for emotional effect, while the essentially instrumental “Riviera Rock” manages to be silly, lighthearted and simultaneously vaguely sad.

Owens closes the album out with the harmonica-driven “Part of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue),” which transcends some of the minimalist pitfalls of the album with a decidedly bittersweet atmosphere.

The song closes out Lysandre on a high note, concluding the album’s spontaneous indulgences and promising better things to come.

Story: COLIN MOORE, Intern A&E Reporter