Much has been written of Josh Tillman’s reinvention of himself under the moniker Father John Misty. The alter-ego Father John Misty is part performance artist, part satirist, part rock star, part comedian, part poet; and it all adds up to an absolutely amazing artist. On his second album, I Love You, Honeybear, under the Father John Misty name, Tillman strings together beautiful, funny, heartbreaking, and at times cringeworthy songs one after another to make a surprisingly personal album with themes of religion, love, retribution, debauchery, and almost everything in between.
Prior to releasing Fear Fun in 2012, Tillman went on a personal journey in Laurel Canyon where he reports having a “musical oh-there-I-am” moment and Father John Misty was born. The result was a departure from his earlier solo work, which resulted in both critical and relative commercial success. Prior to his newest album, Tillman met and married his girlfriend. On the excellent track “Ideal Husband”, Tillman the man seems to emerge from Father John Misty the performance artist, as he professes pass transgression and makes a plead for love – albeit with the awkward promise of “I am tired of running, tired of running / Let’s put a baby in the oven / Wouldn’t that make the Ideal Husband”.
The single “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” is a fantastic song that finds Tillman at his most tongue-in-cheek. It seems to be a love song, but the lyrics are so completely wacky that it might just be one of those tracks that just should be enjoyed and interpreted individually by each listener.
“Bored in the USA” is a bitter ballad on what Tillman sees as the middle-class monotony in the US. It is bitingly funny at times and simply frustrating at others. Compared to other tracks that are more outright comical, this one is bleak in a lovely way. The laugh track makes it feel all the more desperate, of a man trying to make sense of the commercial world.
I Love You Honeybear is a marvel of an album. Truly hitting on every emotion by making you laugh, making you cringe, and making you shake your head repeatedly. Tillman has found his voice in Father John Misty and it truly is a remarkable one.
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