A review of Father John Misty’s solo album
If you have never heard of Father John Misty, I can promise you that he is not a member of clergy. In fact, many of his lyrics demonstrate that he is anything but.
As the lead singer of the Fleet Foxes, Josh Tillman ironically maintains this pseudonym for his latest solo album. Alongside a 22-piece string section and musician Jonathan Wilson, the singer croons about feelings of jealousy, insanity, and regrettable behavior. Nonetheless, his new album, I Love You, Honeybear, released on Feb. 10, takes on an autobiographical tone as the singer’s lyrics explores love through the particularities of the modern male psyche.
The premier song on the album, “I Love You, Honeybear” sums up Tillman’s tongue-in-cheek approach toward love. At the beginning of the tune, he coos, “Oh honeybear, honeybear, honeybear,” only to follow it with, “Mascara, blood, ash, and cum,/On the Rorschach sheets where we make love.” The sophisticated cohesion of the violin quartet, acoustic guitar and synthesizer backing Tillman’s velvety voice juxtapose raw, disillusioned and ironic lyrics about a love that reigns true for the singer. The paradoxical combination of Tillman’s soothing sound, along with his dark, moody lyrics makes his music comparable to a twisted lullaby—a perverse melody that haunts your dreams.
The narcissistic title of the song “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment”, along with the upbeat and catchy melody accompanying this song, further deepens the theme of irony he wove throughout the album. In this song, Tillman focuses on his lover with, “petty, vogue ideas,” who, “blames her excess on [his] influence but gladly Hoovers all [his] drugs.”
The third song on the album is “True Affection.” This song particularly stands out for its psychedelic, technologic sound. The resonance of its tune is different from Tillman’s usual folkish, rock vibe. Tillman touches upon a relevant modern lamentation, in which he questions, “When can we talk/with the face/instead of using all these strange devices?”
Regardless of the satirical tone Tillman used within many of his songs, his music is nonetheless real and raw. He breaks away from his usual cynical tone in the song, “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me.” Behind youthful, moving “ooh’s” of a choir, Tillman coos, “There’s no need to fear me,/ Darling, I love you as you are when you’re alone/ I’ll never try to change you.”
I give Tillman’s sophomore album four out of five stars. Although I was not quite as content with it as I was for his first solo piece of work, Fear Fun, I believe that I Love You, Honeybear, accurately embodies the disheartened view of love and relationships that much of our generation currently holds. At times, I got a kick out of hearing Tillman’s ideals expressed through his witty, spunky lyrics. Other times, I was deeply moved by the artist’s articulation of tender love.