Father John Misty

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Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear
Sub Pop
by David Chiu

Don’t be misled by the title of John Tillman’s (a.k.a. Father John Misty) latest album—it’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy work, though its gorgeous musical instrumentation and production might indicate otherwise. As he explained in the press notes for I Love You, Honeybear, Tillman crafts a work that deals with the complexities of love, fear and the walls in the human psyche. The result is something very cerebral, romantic, and self-conscious: the title song is a swooning ballad of ’20s pop-meets-country; and the elaborate-sounding “Strange Encounter” would be something that Burt Bacharach and Phil Spector together recorded in the studio. There are a few exceptions to the album’s majority of country-laden folk ballads with these orchestral accompaniment: “True Affection” dabbles in electronic techno/funk beats; and “The Ideal Husband” is probably the record’s lone rocker, with a bit of influences from ’60s power pop and the Beach Boys. The last song, “I Went to the Store One Day,” is a stunning poetic track that is so pretty yet dark that by the end, it’ll make your jaw drop and go wow–it’s that affecting. Amid all the balladry and Tillman’s tender, soulful vocals on I Love You, Honeybear is a sense of melancholy that recalls Bryan Ferry at his most jaded, especially in a line like “love is just an institution based on human frailty” from the song “Holy Shit.” The bottom line is Tillman’s sprawling work is magnificent and already on my list of this year’s best record.

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