Christopher Owens - Lysandre

Stylistically it may differ from Girls, but lyrically it’s in very much the same realm.

Label: Turnstile

Rating: 8

The break up of Girls was something of a surprise back in the summer. They’d never been more popular. Second album ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ was a stunning, critically acclaimed record. They were a band who people really invested in emotionally. However, on reflection, their demise makes perfect sense: Christopher Owens is a resolutely singular character. A songwriter of infinite layers and contradictions. Working as a solo artist seems a better fit for someone of such myriad talents.

‘Lysandre’ is his first solo statement - and anyone looking for a Girls record in all but name, or a document of the band’s break-up will be severely disappointed. It’s an intensely beguiling and, at times brave collection of songs that completely rejects any notion of indie rock or treading over recently-covered ground. There’s one tenuous link - producer Doug Boehm also worked on ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ - and he gives the album a lovely lush quality. Where organ was a dominant sound o that last Girls album, here it’s replaced by a fluttering flute. It is a distinctly un-rockist statement.

This is a concept album. Written during one night in 2009, it’s Owens’ personal reflection of his formative experiences in a band, going out on tour and travelling the world. Oh, and falling in love. As ever, love is a major theme here. Stylistically it may differ from Girls, but lyrically it’s in very much the same realm.

It’s dominated by a recurring melody, ‘Lysandre’s Theme’, which appears in every song. Sometimes jazzy and ebullient, at others winsome and sad, the instrumental motif provides a narrative link between the songs. Depending on your viewpoint, you may consider this charming and endearing - or intensely annoying.

There’s a gentle delicacy to much of the songs here. ‘A Broken Heart’ is the standout. It is a truly gorgeous acoustic lament. The moment when Owens’ tender voice breaks in to a fragile cracked falsetto is immeasurably affecting. There are moments, though, when it all feels too insipid and drippy, as on the cheesy ‘Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener’.

‘Lysandre’ frequently charms. It is a primarily low-key statement, but does enough to suggest that Owens’ future post-Girls may be very promising.