When I heard that Girls broke up, I was devastated, but took solace in the notion that Chris Owens would move on as a solo musician. One would be hard pressed to deny that Owens was the heart and soul of Girls. His pure talent for songwriting was a major driving force for the band (as was J.R.’s production). I had hopes that Owens would be able to take his natural talent and make it work on his own. Lysandre, Owens debut solo release, unfortunately left me underwhelmed.
If anyone else released this album, I doubt that it would receive even half of the attention that it has gotten because of the fame that Owens received with Girls. Owens plays it safe here, and doesn’t seem to take the risks that he did as a member of Girls.
The album has a reoccurring theme/melody that is supposed to be a backbone of sorts, and underlying thread that ties all of the pieces together. Lysandre is a retelling of his first tour with Girls in 2008, and an encounter with a girl that he met in France during it. The only problem is I never really got tied into the story. The repetition of this theme is supposed to be the glue of the album, but it never succeeds with pulling me in. It actually gets to be too much by the albums end.
Some moments on the album see Owens coming close to hitting his stride (“Here We Go Again”, “Lysandre”) but ultimately this feels like a safe album that feels like a weak extension of what we would come to expect from a capable songwriter such as Owens. “Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener” sees him brutally tell of his self-doubts as a songwriter, and it ironically is the weakest thing that he has ever done. While “Riviera Rock” feels slightly misplaced on the record, I give him praise as it’s one of the only risks that he takes on the entire album.
I know Owens is one of the best songwriters that we currently have playing the game. That’s why when I heard Lysandre I felt like he cheated himself. This was the album that he needed to make, but I think he has a lot better in him. Is it a bad album? No, it’s a quick breezy 28 minutes, and it’s easy on the ears. But it’s not something that we will look back on with the same esteem as his previous works, and fans will be ready to move on as the rest of 2013 does.
As Owens comes into his own as a solo musician, I hope he finds a steadier footing that allows him to find more creativity and to shock and genuinely rock us like he did so many times over the past few years.