Saturday, February 16, 2013

Album Review: Christopher Owens- "Lysandre" - Perfectly Ok

Last July, when Christopher Owens announced that he was leaving Girls, the band that he had formed in 2007 with bassist / producer Chet "Jr" White to pursue a solo career it made me sad. Now that I have heard his debut album Lysandre, I feel even sadder or maybe this numb feeling is just boredom. It's not that the songs on this album are all that bad (Ok, the instrumental Riviera Rock is pretty god awful) it is that they don't grab you by the shirt collar and draw you into their stories. Some songs come close and at times you almost get the sense that you are eavesdropping on Owens intimate feelings but then (at almost every turn) the over sweet production stops that from happening. As you just start to care in Here We Go a kind of insipidly sweet flute blocks you. In New York City you seriously want to stuff a rag in the bell of the sax player. A Broken Heart feels more like Girls and does sweep you up in it's embrace due to a really tender vocal performance by Owens but still, the song would of been better served with a less pristine production. Here We Go Again certainly is a solid song but like most of Lysandre feels ok but not inspired.

When I heard Riviera Rock which could be an 80's soundtrack for a Miami Vice episode I almost dropped my diet Coke as my grip lessened and my jaw dropped open. For a split second it became crystal clear to me that Owens was fucking with me, ok not me, but us. YES- it was an audacious bit of self mockery and a statement on the media to purposely put out an album full of so so songs and wait for the Pitchforks of the world to embrace it. To not only embrace it but love it. NOT one of us in the blogosphere would have the balls to say the emperor has no fucking clothes on! My theory only made more sense when I heard "Love is in the Ear of the Listener" that sounds like a song co-written by Jimmy Buffett and Kermit the Frog! Chet White is flashing in my mind. Maybe he is the missing link, maybe he was a sounding board that helped filter out the musical muck or maybe his producing skills would of elevated the material (?).

Everywhere You Knew is pleasant. I am listening to the last song Part of Me and I am crazy now. I have taken a big drink of the funny colored kool-aid. I am starting to like harmonica solos. I feel dirty from the sweet songs that would be a huge hit at most convalescent homes. I am now fighting back, clawing at my CD's desperately wanting to hear the Elliot Smith Figure 8 album or Fear Fun by Father John Misty or Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Girls.

Robb Donker

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