Mayor Bloomberg has long fought traffic congestion, but there’s a whole lot of honking on “New York City,” the latest track to surface from Christopher Owens’ upcoming solo debut. The former Girls frontman previewed the song from his January 15 album Lysandre today on BBC Radio 6 Music, and he brought along a somewhat skronky saxophone. Though previous cuts we’ve heard from the record leaned toward lush chamber-pop, SPIN’s Barry Walters described this one, in its recent live debut, as a “sprightly” hybrid of E Street Band sax and Lou Reed shuffle.
The indie sax trend, which Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox first called more than two years ago now, has already endured the bombastic heights of Lady Gaga and the shark-jumping of Foster the People. As Owens wispily coos, “Look at us in New York City / Everybody’s listening to me / Here we are in New York City / Rock’n’roll in New York City,” some will hear the quirky sincerity of Reed acolyte Jonathan Richman. At least in this particular recording, another interpretation might lead you to find the lyrics painfully literal, the music the sound of someone whispering at a crowded intersection while crossing against the light in front of a not-so-subtle truck driver. We’ll have to wait for the studio recording before reaching a final verdict.