Imagine the scene. Belle and Sebastian go on a picnic, all dressed in gingham dungarees with daisies in their hair. The only food on the menu is cucumber sandwiches and lollipops. Everyone’s drinking elder flower lemonade. Sounds sickly? Well, despite a few drug references, Lysandre is every bit as twee. Ex-Girls frontman Christopher Owens’ debut solo record is an album that leaves you soaking wet, not from tremendous sexual excitement, but from the sodden drippy lyrics about cuddling under the moonlight as flutes gently twitter away in the background. While Belle and Sebastian at least have verbosity and wit in their arsenal, Owens too often falls on the wrong side of earnestness. Lyrics such as “what if I’m a bad songwriter and everything has been said before?” (‘Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener’) are the type of guff that should never be heard outside of a fourteen-year old’s bedroom. And does the world really need a near-instrumental cod-reggae track cluttered with sax solos (‘Riviera Rock’)?
From the man behind some truly spectacular moments with his old band, this record feels like a genuine disappointment. Perhaps it’s a stopgap – it’s mercifully short (less than 29 minutes) and almost feels like a soundtrack record than an actual album, with its recurring motifs and the Midnight Cowboy-esque mood palette. In fact, the final track, ‘Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue)’ is by far the best track here despite being so obviously influenced by ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’. But, ultimately, Lysandre ends up being a lost opportunity, a failed attempt at proving what Owens can do on his own.