Chartattack is streaming Chris Owens’s upcoming album, ‘Lysandre’, which will be out on January 15th, and I have already been giving it a few listens … although this post can’t hardly be considered as a review.
It’s a rather short album, filled with very delicate and nostalgic music, it has its moment, and I hope I will like it much more with time, but the first listening didn’t give me the impression of richness and inventiveness of the last Girls’ album. On the contrary, the album almost stays in the same nuance all along, with pastoral soundscapes and oddly archaic musical arrangements.
Let’s see, we already knew about ‘Lysandre’s Theme’, which comes back regularly throughout the album, and ‘Here We Go’, a very Girls-style song with a sweet and beautiful melody and this flute/melodica musical interlude that seemed to be escaped from some 70s movie soundtrack… And there is a lot of this in the album, a lot of melancholia and old-fashioned use of flute and saxophone, like on the next track, the upbeat ‘New York City’, with a sax solo that will sound a little bit like a rehearsal for the Blues Brothers to some, but in this electronica age, we shouldn’t blame someone who still uses real instruments!
Nevertheless, there’s a lot of place for Chris Owens’ fragile vocals and pretty melodies – it is difficult to resist to the eerie tune ‘A Broken Heart’ – and Girls’ fans will be happy with ‘Here We Go Again’. The semi-dub-tropicalia ambiance mid album with ‘Riviera Rock’ is a nice departure from the rest, but it works like a distraction, whereas ‘Love is in the Ear of the Listener’, ‘Everywhere You knew’, and ‘Lysandre’ are pretty songs for a fresh spring morning, but if this Lysandre woman has inspired the whole album I was expected a little more drama and diversity?
Actually this omnipresence of the ‘Lysandre’s Theme’ becomes quite redundant after a while, as if all the songs couldn’t escape the same ghost (and that may be the point of the album) turning in circle around the same melody and the same girl – that Owens met 5 years ago whilst on tour at a festival in France – with instrumental arrangements which seem to come from another era. I am not saying this in a bad way, but I stay divided between two thoughts: are these flutes-sax-acoustic-ambiance-going-jazzy simply too old-fashioned? Or should we forget about fashion and enjoy Owens pouring his heart out with the help of his frail and emotion-filled voice?
Chris Owens is certainly someone apart in the music world, crafting delicate and subtle melodies, he is an androgynous character not afraid of telling intimate and personal stories, using ancient musical tricks that others wouldn’t dare to use, but still managing to sound fresh. He has talents, but he has his doubts, ‘What if I’m just a bad songwriter, and everything I say has been said before? he sings in ‘Love is in the Ear of the Listener’, however he shouldn’t, he is the only songwriter out there who can put such a 60-70s drenched album and who can get away with it. Still, ''Lysandre' reminds me how much I will miss Girls!
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