Father John Misty

I Love You, Honeybear

Written by: MIN on 29/05/2016 15:59:11

Father John Misty aka Josh Tillman isn’t a persona we’ve really dealt with previously here at Rockfreaks, but since he’s played five (sold out) shows within a year prior to the one going down at Falconer Salen this evening, maybe it’s about time we tried to find out if he’s worth the extraordinary amount of hyperbolic claim he receives or not. The previous drummer of Fleet Foxes from Seattle, WA, turned a lot of heads when he decided to pursue his solo career instead of continuing in the aforementioned band, but needless to say that bold move paid back his bet tenfold. He’s almost become the poster boy for fans of alternative and well-orchestrated folk rock that just begs to be lapped up by the hipster-segment, and being featured in the American television show “Master of None” sure helped cement his status. But enough about pigeonholing stereotypes, let’s move on to the music at hand.

The first few guitar notes and subtle piano-play on the album’s title-track open up a warm and embracing sound that welcomes you to Josh Tillman’s strange and bizarre world. You can almost see and feel the velvet wallpaper and the polar bear skin that’s spread across the floor in front of the fireplace as Father John Misty takes you by the hand and pours you another glass of expensive port before his next sermon. Tillman’s smooth tenor voice blends beautifully with the sound of a string-orchestra that’s neatly conducted by the beat of the drum, and when the song fades out it’s easy to see why this fleeting fox has become so popular; it’s undeniable that “I Love You, Honeybear” is not only excellently put together, but also flawlessly performed.

The following song is more up-beat but no less delicious. “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” is, greatly helped by its Mexican guitar and Spanish trumpets, like taking a trip to a foreign country and hanging out at the local café down by the city square, only to be picked up by a stranger to engage in a modern dance performance of Flamenco the very next moment. The next song, “True Affection”, is an electronic piece with repeated lyrics that, although becoming a bit homogenous after a little while, adds a nice flavor to the album. Unfortunately, this level of song-writing quickly wears off, as the next four songs just don’t have any real impact. Everything still feels velvety and soft, but at the same time you can’t shake the feeling that maybe someone put grape juice inside the wine bottle instead. A few minutes ago you were only getting higher, but now someone’s extracted what was unique about the album. There’s only so many times Josh Tillman can sing about having intercourse with a married woman on top of the kitchen counter while choking her before it gets dated. The more undemanding fans of Nick Cave and women over 40 might get a thrill from such an edgy display of lyricism, but could we change the subject, please?

But suddenly it comes clashing, like an air raid siren warning you against the inevitable strike from the enemy: “The Ideal Husband” raises the bar considerably with its threatening piano piece and raging drums, climaxing in Josh Tillman yelling ”Wouldn’t I make the ideal husband?” followed by distorted guitar fuzz. The politically aware “Bored in the USA” (a title that brings several other critical songs to mind) provides the best set of lyrics on the album and presents some real emotions:

How many people rise and think // ‘Oh good, the stranger’s body’s still here // Our arrangement hasn’t changed’? // (…) Just a little bored in the U.S.A.

After that song’s almost drained you, the one-two closer of the album ends an interesting journey through a weird and wonderful mind presented by Josh Tillman. Honestly, too much of “I Love You, Honeybear” is forgettable to make this the classic everyone heralds it as, but that should not undermine the greatness of several compositions found throughout. Tillman not only tells an excellent story, but he also provides some unique ideas and epic musical pieces. If you cut away the fat that’s found by the middle of the album (and, unfortunately, takes up one third of the album), you get a memorable collection of songs and melodies that’ll probably stay with you for a long time. And thus, one could argue that Father John Misty is worth all the hype, if only he didn’t let out too much hot air now and then.

Download: I Love You, Honeybear; The Ideal Husband; Bored in the USA; Holy Shit
For The Fans Of: John Grant, Nick Cave, The National, Fleet Foxes
Listen: facebook.com/fatherjohnmisty

Release date 09.02.2015
Bella Union, Sub Pop

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