It was a shock when Christopher Owens took to Twitter last July to announce the dissolution of Girls, the San Francisco–based band he founded with Chet “J.R.” White. But fans knew it wouldn’t be long before Owens resurfaced: Since Girls appeared back in 2009, the prolific singer and songwriter has churned out his AM radio–inspired tunes at a breathtaking pace.
Just six months later, he’s released his first solo effort, Lysandre. It’s billed as a biographical concept album focusing in on the whirlwind emotions Owens felt just as his band hit it big: the anticipation of heading out on his first tour, the anxieties that accompany sudden fame, and the agony of falling head over heels into a Transatlantic love affair.
While the story behind the album feels expansive, the execution proves far too restrictive. Each song was inspired by the opening flute melody (“Lysandre’s Theme”), a motif that winds its way through almost all of the album’s tracks, every one of which is in the key of A. Because Owens hems himself into such limited sonic territory, Lysandre has a sameness that’s aggravated by the album’s weak midsection and his penchant for recycling melodies (“Everywhere You Knew” is strikingly similar to Girls’s “Broken Dreams Club”).
It’s a focused effort, to be sure, but given Owens’s rich and diverse talents, it’s a crying shame that this album feels more like a clever songwriting exercise than an epic journey of self-discovery.
Playlist picks “Here We Go,” “Part of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue),” “A Broken Heart”
Christopher Owens plays the Mod Club (722 College St.) on Jan. 18.