Christopher Owens – Lysandre
Girls had a real schtick going. They sang love songs. Sad love songs. But love songs nevertheless. Sad love songs with lots of guitars and Beach Boy-like harmonies. What a fantastic combination. ‘Carolina’ from the Broken Dreams Club EP being the very best example. Sadly, Girls are no more. Happily, the driving force behind Girls, Christopher Owens, still is. Lysandre is Christopher Owens’ first post-Girls album. Given he was the voice of the band, the new album sounds, from a lead vocal perspective at least, just like a Girls album. More than that, Lysandre is a suite of love songs. Sad love songs. It’s the story of Christopher meeting and breaking up with the eponymous Lysandre during a Girls tour a few years ago. But, there the similarities pretty much end. There are guitars, for sure. But they’re not the driving force. Instead, the instruments that stick in the mind this time are the flutes and saxophones, both of which feature prominently on a number of songs. And while Owens’ voice is still front and centre, the Beach Boy-like harmonies are now few and far between. More than that, this is a very slight album. Even if the last Girls album – Father, Son, Holy Ghost – included perhaps a couple of tracks too many, this one clocks in at barely 30 minutes. This isn’t a good start. Yet, Lysandre has various things going for it. For one, it’s a very cohesive listen. The repetition of the Lysandre theme, on flute, sax, guitar, ties the different tracks together. And then there are some nice songs. ‘Here We Go’ is a great Girls-like sad love song. ‘Here We Go Again’ is a great Girls-like sad love song with guitars. Ah, the good old days. In the end, though, the album raises more questions than it answers. Is it so brief because it’s a stop-gap album? Will a fully realised Christopher Owens album follow next? Does it sound so gentle because it’s a Christopher Owens solo album? Girls were always a fairly amorphous group, but has the split from long-time collaborator Chet “JR” White taken away the energy from the sound? Who knows? There’s just about enough in this collection to keep the momentum going. The next album will be the real test.