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Album review: Christopher Owens' 'Lysandre'

January 15, 2013|By August Brown
  • Christopher Owens' "Lysandre."
Christopher Owens' "Lysandre." (Fat Possum Records )

"New York City," the third song on Christopher Owens' debut solo album "Lysandre," is kind of an opposite-universe version of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side." It's a sax-soaked tale of turning tricks in the big city, but zips along a major-key melody with a mix of hope and devastation.

That blend has been the hallmark of Owens' writing since his time fronting the indie-rock band Girls. "Lysandre" isn't much of a departure But it does broaden the range and refine the writing that made him a troubadour of millennial drifters (and those who go to bed with them).

"Lysandre" starts with a Ren-Faire flute melody that suggests a joust with preciousness is to come. But then the record, which was allegedly written in one fevered day, skips off into Bill Withers acoustic ambience, Belle & Sebastian-style twee-pop and occasional nods to acid-casualty classic rock. There's some overly emo mulling on "Love Is in the Ear of the Listener," where Owens wonders "What if I'm just a bad songwriter?" He's not, but Conor Oberst does that sort of meta-self-criticism better.

Overall though, "Lysandre" is a fresh start for a writer with a fine ear for the way happiness and heartbreak intertwine.

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Christopher Owens

"Lysandre"

Fat Possum

Two and a half stars (out of four)

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