Father John Misty, I Love You, HoneyBear

Nick Fuston

Father John Misty, I Love You, HoneyBear [Sub Pop Records]

It’s not too often that an artist comes along who can weave dark humor and flippancy into otherwise (mostly) serious material and get away with it. It’s no big surprise, then, that the artistry of Father John Misty is something of an acquired taste; A sort of My Morning Jacket type who spent a little too much time around Tim Heidecker.

To get a flavor for what I’m talking about, I Love You, Honeybear second track Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) is a song that mentions Satanic Christmas Eve, film school, a bloody wedding dress, all set to what sounds like a mariachi band performing in Casa Bonita. Weirded out yet?

Despite what it might seem, Misty’s absurdist fantasies are only background noise to the full and diverse instrumentation on this album. While it’s not necessarily a sonic departure from 2012’s Fear Fun, that’s not really a bad thing. The album ‘s organ, horns, banjo and piano all flow together, beautifully sewn up with comforting vocals and an occasional falsetto.

What really gives this record lasting power is its unnerving and unflinching look at relationships and personal vulnerability. Ultimately,  I Love You, Honeybear is an album of love songs, both positive and negative.  Some deal with a number of unpleasant topics like fear of commitment (When You’re Smiling and Astride Me) and playing games (Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow). But tracks like I Went to the Store One Day, a true account of how Tillman met his wife in the parking lot of a County Country Store, as well as the album’s eponymous opener really show the true nature of the record’s heartwarming message.

While people are likely more partial to the electropop crossover single True Affection, I had a pretty good chuckle with The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment. The song, a ballad about putting up with pseudo-intellectual women in the hopes of hooking up, describes a familiar theme I’m willing to bet a good amount of our readers have experienced. Like literally.

From Tillman’s start as a solo artist twelve years ago, through his stint as the drummer for wildly successful folk outfit Fleet Foxes and back to solo artist status again under the new moniker of Father John Misty, the man has come a long way in a very short time. With just so much experience under his belt, Tillman delivers his most polished and accessible performance to date with what looks to be considerable ease.

Original album review can be found on theauxjack.com.

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