Christopher Owens :: Lysandre

In a lengthy, revealing interview with Pitchfork, Christopher Owens mentioned that he thought the songs he’d written for Girls’ 2011 album Father, Son, Holy Ghost were capable of winning Grammys. If he only meant that those songs were among the best of the year--or even of the era--then he certainly would have been correct. But if Owens, whose heartfelt honesty has made his interviews nearly as captivating as his songwriting, truly believed that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences might recognize that achievement as such, then it’s further proof that the Bay Area songwriter is only partially of this world. What I mean is that, for all of his personal eccentricities, Christopher Owens occupies a space that many of us left behind years ago, a place where recognition from awards shows and the Billboard charts are actual barometers of success. He’s long heralded the work of Ariel Pink, but he doesn’t seem to get the joke--or, what’s more likely, he doesn’t particularly care that it’s a joke. It wouldn’t be right to call him post-irony, if only because he doesn’t seem to have ever gone through irony’s throes.

That’s not really a fair reading--you don’t escape from what Owens has escaped from without growing a little world-weary--but the tenderness that characterizes Lysandre, his first post-Girls album, is beyond reproach. The album largely concerns Girls’ first tour through Europe, and Owens’ relationship with a French woman whose name gives the album its title. Owens and Lysandre’s relationship dissolved, just as the Girls project dissolved, and while Lysandre is not without its devastating moments, it’s a far cry from the existential horror that powered some of Father, Son, Holy Ghost’s most moving songs. Where that record, and Album before it, tried to rally its singer and subjects out of defeat, Lysandre finds Owens comfortably removed; he’s telling his story, not recreating it.

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