Review: Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear

3.5 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

fatherjohnmistyI’ve been tempted to call Father John Misty a novelty act. The pseudonym alone sets off  alarm bells. Josh Tillman played drums in a couple of indie acts before setting out as a solo act known as J. Tillman, recording some folk-oriented material. But after a stint as the Fleet Foxes drummer, he began recording under the name Father John Misty.

Oh pray for us, Father. His live performances have been characterized by his grand, dramatic gestures, which sure led this observer to believe that he’s taking the piss, as the Brits would say — making fun of music, the music business, and sincerity.

But after listening to this album, I understand that he’s simply carrying on the tradition of a long line of Rock satirists, from Harry Nilsson to Randy Newman to Warren Zevon to Elvis Costello to Ben Folds. Yes, he’s taking the piss out of pop music and sentimentality. But he does have a real, genuine side that he seems to let slip through from time to time.

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Musically, the album runs through a gamut of retro pop stylings, from sugary soul to spared-down folk-rock to gentle psychedelia to a campy, Johnny Rivers strings-and-all sound. But this album is not so much about the music or the instrumentation. This guy is one of the best and wildest lyricists I’ve heard in a long time, serving up a steady diet of wicked cynicism with a dollop of honesty on top.

It’s kind of a hipster take on love and relationships in the 2010s, a sex-and-drugs filled romp though Southern California, culminating with his eventual marriage and all its implications. In “Chateau Lobby #4”, he sings:

I wanna take you in the kitchen

Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in

So bourgeoisie to keep waiting

Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian

There are lyrics on this album that will make you laugh out loud. But then on a song called “Holy Shit”, he comes up with this:

Age-old gender roles

Infotainment, capital

Golden Boughs and mercury

Bohemian nightmare, dust bowl chic

This documentary’s lost on me

Satirical news, free energy

Mobile lifestyle, loveless sex

Independence, happiness

Oh, and no one ever knows the real you and life is brief

So I’ve heard, but what’s that got to do with this atom bomb and me?

Father John Misty is an acquired taste. But once you understand the game he’s playing, it all kind of falls into place. This album will grow on you after repeated listens, and you’ll be pulling out one lyrical gem after another.

Release Date: February 10, 2015

One comment to “Review: Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear”
  1. Pingback: Watch Father John Misty’s Sensational Performances On SNL | Rocknuts

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