Six months after announcing his departure from San Francisco-based indie rock outfit Girls, the group’s front man, Christopher Owens, has released his debut solo album. “Lysandre” showcases Owens’ ability to adhere to his established musical style but adds some eclectic touches.
Owens transitions easily from his time in Girls to his new role as a solo artist. The album’s first full-length track, “Here We Go,” is about as close to a typical Girls song as one could get. The only twist is a fluttering flute line that gives the song a borderline medieval feel. Soft guitar strumming is paired with cascading arpeggios as Owens sings in a caressing whisper.
“Lysandre” acts as a concept album of sorts with one continuous melodic theme, aptly titled “Lysandre’s Theme,” woven throughout the record. The theme finds its way into every song and is constantly reworked with varying instrumentation. It functions as a foundation from which Owens freely explores differing musical styles, such as Caribbean, garage-rock and folk.
Without the theme, the album would seem relatively out of control given the vast array of instrumentation. Owens’ tracks hop around between harmonica, organ, lap-steel guitar and the aforementioned flute. In “New York City,” Owens incorporates a rollicking saxophone line, something that seems to have gone extinct in modern rock music.
The sax makes another appearance on the tropical-tinged cut “Riviera Rock.” Waves roll in and syncopated guitar strums kick the song into motion. Sax and piano pick up the album’s theme and offer a light, groovy perspective on the otherwise somber motif.
With “Lysandre,” Owens makes it easy for his fans to make the jump from Girls’ material to his new project’s tunes. He keeps the same sentimental folk-rock feeling but puts enough of a spin on it to give listeners something interesting and refreshing.