Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear Review

Baltimore’s finest nomad and singer-song writer Joshua Tillman has to decided to offer us up a second full length LP instalment from Father John Misty with I Love You, Honeybear. It’s been almost three years since his debut LP Fear Fun gave Tillman a very solid footing to his career as Father John Misty with wound up guitars and a deliberate lethargic filter that matched the tone of the vocals and lyrics about him. The drugged-up distortion of his debut effort will be hard to follow up, but pressure isn’t really something that fits into this guys vocabulary. He takes everything in his stride and if anything isn’t at his pace then he’s not interested. With this in mind the cliché of the difficult second album is a concept immune to him, but will this turn out to be an advantage or a hindrance?

The opening and title track introduces itself as a delicate American ballad with the gently rocking acoustic guitars and the thin layers of soaring strings from which Tillman’s vocals reverberate and sweep over. The simple and swooning track has subtle culminations of sound headed by the percussion and the wound up riffs. Though it doesn’t offer up much in the way of difference, it is produced and offered up with a small echo which only highlights every piece of familiarity and pulls it’s sound out a little more. A subtle change on nostalgia. ‘True Affection’ is very much an outlier when compared to the rest of the album’s sound and direction, but through the vocals and lyrics it still maintains the on-going feel and theme of the album with it’s lamentation of modern life and the relaxed, yet prominent vocal delivery atop of it. Featuring flashing and rotating electronica set around a shuffling drum sample and the disjointed backing vocal harmonies from Tillman himself, the track really has an almost patchy and ad-hoc construction that is brought into harmony by the lead vocals and delicate melodies forged from the mixed sound. The lyrics bemoaning modern technology really works well whilst set around the instrumental contradiction of the electronica whilst he asks for a “crazy conversation” instead of talking through various devices.

‘Bored in the USA’ is a wonderful and utterly delicate piece of piano music with mournful chords and solemn vocals that are loosely tied together with the wispy string sections and which climbs are matched by Tillman’s slick falsettos. From these come the brilliantly formed satire of the lyrics such as “Save me white/president Jesus” in one of the best pieces of song writing so far this year. ‘Ideal Husband’ is a more buoyant and rhythmic track with the rotating acoustic riffs and a organ film over the top of it. The song spirals in and out of these structures and are features Tillman’s more powerful vocal. ‘Chateau lobby #4’ and ‘The Night Josh Tillman Came to our Apartment’ are two more enigmatic takes upon the acoustic swoons that are the mainstay of this album. It’s an album with which the lyrics and production are the two main points of it’s worth with the music just something to hang it on, for as graceful and smooth as the music is. Amongst the satire and ironies there is quite a simplistic beauty to the music. It isn’t particularly innovative or ground-breaking, but it is wonderfully crafted and formed around what will be some of the best lyrical performances of 2015.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear = 8.5/10

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