Single Review – Father John Misty – Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All

Joshua Tillman was had a pretty quick turnaround from releasing Pure Comedy early in 2017, touring the world with the album and having a release date of June 1st for his fourth studio album God’s Favourite Customer. He’s sprung the album on us to some extent and it seems indicative of a flurry of creativity for Tillman’s pseudonym Father John Misty. One of the first tracks released from the album is ‘Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All’ and musically it largely follows the American Songbook Ballad style of his recent works, but more so his 2015 release I love you, Honeybear. The nudging piano chords are met with wiry riffs and occasional distorted effects. Lyrically, at least in this track he sings about his view of love as opposed to a politically charged message again reminiscent of his first couple of albums. It will certainly be difficult to top Pure Comedy, though we can expect Father John Misty to be as engaging as ever with his latest effort.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Beach House – Dive

Baltimore’s leading Dream Pop artists have released their first new material since 2015’s Thank Your Lucky Stars; arguably the most well received album Beach House have released coming just two months after their previous album Depression Cherry. Their seventh studio album is helpfully called 7 and is due for a May 11th release. As their sound has progressed they’ve often delved deeper into the washed out, hazy sounds with haunting vocals and lingering instrumentation. Their new single ‘Dive’ doesn’t stray far from this approach with quivering organs combining with spaced out, solitary strikes of the guitar. Victoria Legrand’s vocals add to the darker atmosphere which is eventually with Lacey percussion, pitch shifted riffs and shimmering electronica albeit under the prism of the whirring, hazy production. It is another example of their skill with musical arrangements and minimalist work, but here we are only given fleeting glimpses of something new.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Father John Misty – Mr Tillman

Joshua Tillman took his ironic and astute songwriting as Father John Misty and turned it into stinging and biting observations with last year’s Pure Comedy. A year on from its release, he’s now released new material with the single ‘Mr Tillman’. In a track that peels its instrumental layers back and forth, with spaced piano chords making way for a staccato keys and guitars and Tillman’s double tracked chorus strips back to singular, echoed vocals of verses. Lyrically, its reflective of pre-2017 material which was akin to a series of monologues of Tillman’s thoughts and experiences. In that sense, it is a step back to familiarity, but to what end we don’t know? Just that it’ll still be an intriguing if not the most accomplished Father John Misty material.

Owen Riddle

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy Review 


Joshua Tillman has significantly elevated his standing amongst critics and the public over the course of the last five years. Fear Fun was an album that strongly hinted at his talent for combining black humour with a strong musical base. I Love You, Honeybear demonstrated is skill as a musical narrator in all forms as he used everything from easy acoustic folk and piano ballads to ring true his introspective thoughts and feelings. Pure Comedy is an album delivered in full spotlight of the media and much of the public. Now we have legendary names being placed alongside his. Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon to name just two. With his increased presence, it seems only fitting that looks to be an outward projection to the world around him; his flippancy, eccentricity and melodic skills all tools for doing so this time around. Will it maintain his upward projectory? 

With the title track he follows a similar piano ballad style, to ‘Bored in the USA’. Presumably no longer ‘Bored in the USA’, Tillman resorts to finding humour in the chaos of American politics. Taking aim at religion as he often does, he compares priests to the cult of Donald Trump when he sings, ‘Oh, their religions are the best /They worship themselves yet they’re totally obsessed /With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits /And they get terribly upset /When you question their sacred texts / Written by woman-hating epileptics’. He goes on saying that these people have ‘horizons that just forever recede/ And how’s this for irony, their idea of being free is a prison of beliefs /That they never ever have to leave’. It may not be as original as his previous work on a musical basis but with these insightful lyrics, Joshua Tillman shows he hasn’t lost his touch in the two years between his last LP and his next. The Ballad of the Dying Man’ is an example of his fixating writing style. That he writes each song in a distinctly American songbook style only heightens the irony on which his lyrics thrive. Amongst the flowing piano chords, stringed together with gentle acoustic strumming are his swipes at the ‘homophobes, hipsters and one percent’ and the idea that a dying man would check his news feed on his last breath. Bold and uncomfortable lyrics encased in this familiar and warm sound is what makes this song and his recent catalogue of music as a whole. With ‘Two Widely Different Perspectives’ he swipes at the common topic of war and division. He places his verses in two parts with each a comparison that brands both sides the same. With these tracks we can see how his vocals are even stronger than two years ago and is developing a style somewhere between Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon; a comparison in part for he is his own artist, but something he’s becoming worthy of. 

With ‘Total Entertainment Forever’ he continues to channel that Americana style with chiming piano chords tied up in a jangling acoustic riff with the accentuation of a few Saxophones. In this track he turns his narrative of modern life to our slow degradation as we take on more technology. The lyrics conclude with historians discovering our lifeless corpses with “frozen smiles” on their faces. Father John Misty doesn’t do subtle and that is what makes these songs so captivating. ‘Things It Would Be Helpful To Know Before The Revolution’ is a piece of music delivered through a warm piano ballad as he coolly snipes “so we overthrew the system because there’s no place for human existence”. He muses that his “social life as a little less hectic” as he consoles his empty self amongst a pleasant afternoon setting. The song then take on a ‘Day In The Life’ twist as distorted and whirring string sections fire the song to an echo chamber of Joshua Tillman’s unsettling notes on the nature of the place he lives. The song then slips out of this sonic phase and back into the piano ballad setting. It is a sobering demystifying of our existence that concludes this track as he declares earth as “this godless rock that refuses to die”. As a lyrical and musical combination, it seems an outrageous concept, yet he hammer the unsettling message home in the most reassuring way possible. 

‘Birdie’ is an ode to a bird that’s beyond the events of the earth below with a slightly satirical, idealistic view of the future. An acoustic track that is aiding by a wondrous and ambitious piece of production given the limited foundations of the track, yet a view samples that go on to lead up soaring, morphing soundscapes show how it can be done. ‘Leaving L.A’ is an utterly unnerving piece of gentle music mixed with stinging lyrical content that tears into the culture generated by the city he occupies to the crushing disappointment he is said to be to his dying father. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else on this album, Joshua Tillman showcases his ability to catch us completely off guard with his songwriting. ‘Twenty Years From Now’ is a shimmering piano track that easily deconstructs the myth of our existence before flying off into a spacious and vast instrumental. Off the back of that, he effortlessly rolls on. He declares that “in twenty years time this human experiment will reach its violent end” before boldly swooning that “there’s nothing to fear”. On that note the album ends with steady waves of strings. 

I’ll be honest. I thought this album was going to be brilliant, but it landed so far ahead of where I expected it to fall. We all knew he was an accomplished songwriter, but with Pure Comedy Joshua Tillman has announced himself as one of the great songwriters; to sit with those greats he’s compared to as opposed to sounding a bit like them. Musically, it is not mind blowing, but it doesn’t need to be. He commands each track himself and when he does show some musical ambition, it is a beautiful and tragic experience. Anyone and everyone should take the time to listen to this. It’s a mirror of the world we live in and Father John Misty shows beautifully just how ugly the reflection is. Ironic to the last. 

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy = 10/10

Owen Riddle and Callum Christie 

Single Review – Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever

With Joshua Tilman’s new album under the guise of Father John Misty just under a month away, he’s released another track from Pure Comedy with ‘Total Entertainment Forever’. In his latest track he continues to channel that Americana style with chiming piano chords tied up in a jangling acoustic riff with the accentuation of a few Saxophones. In this track he turns his narrative of modern life to our slow degradation as we take on more technology. The lyrics conclude with historians discovering our lifeless corpses with “frozen smiles” on their faces. Father John Misty doesn’t do subtle and long may that continue. 

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

We’re hardly a week into the Donald Trump presidency and we’ve already had anti-Trump songs from the Gorillaz, Arcade Fire and YG but this one is perhaps the most thoughtful of them. Joshua Tillman, or better known as Father John Misty, has released the titular track of his new album which releases on April 7th. Father John Misty’s previous LP, I Love You Honeybear, was one of the best released in 2015. Filled with witty, funny and odd lyrics as well as a more diverse and energetic production style, saw Tillman experiment more with electronic (on ‘True Affection’) and rock (‘Ideal Husband’) music alongside his more honed ballads and what might loosely be labelled Americana given his unique style. Although it was interesting sonically it was the lyrics which set it apart as a great album. If Joshua Tillman on Letterman sat on a piano singing ‘Save me white Jesus’ (on ‘Bored in the USA’) can’t get you interested in this album then I’m not entirely sure what can. With his new track he follows a similar piano ballad style, presumably no longer ‘Bored in the USA’, Tillman resorts to finding humour in the chaos of American politics. Taking aim at religion as he often does, he compares priests to the cult of Donald Trump when he sings, ‘Oh, their religions are the best /They worship themselves yet they’re totally obsessed /With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits /And they get terribly upset /When you question their sacred texts / Written by woman-hating epileptics’. He goes on saying that these people have ‘horizons that just forever recede/ And how’s this for irony, their idea of being free is a prison of beliefs /That they never ever have to leave’. It may not be as original as his previous work on a musical basis but with these insightful lyrics, Joshua Tillman shows he hasn’t lost his touch in the two years between his last LP and his next. Everybody get excited. 

Callum Christie

Single Review – Father John Misty – Real Love Baby


Off the back of the success of I Love You, Honeybear, one of the best written of albums of last year and for some time; Father John Misty’s enigmatic creator Joshua Tillman has finally released a one off track that had been on his Soundcloud page for some time in ‘Real Love Baby’. Clearly, there is nothing radically different about the track from last years efforts. The track is breezy, smooth with a daydreaming content. One notable difference is in the recording and production techniques with Josh’s vocals recorded as if he was in an echo chamber. His vocals work beautifully to this effect and it gives an otherwise basic song more weight. Even his spare tracks have something to offer. 

Owen Riddle

Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars Review

On May 26th of this year Beach House announced that they would be releasing an album in August, which they did. They also somehow managed to release another album two months later that was written separately but recorded at the same time as “Depression cherry”, titled “Thank your lucky stars”.

 
The songs that feature in “Thank your lucky stars” have a darker nature, with Victoria Legrand saying that the album was slightly more political, and that they felt the need for these songs to exist on their own. The duo’s trademark organs are still present, but the excessive reverb that we heard in “Teen Dream” and “Depression Cherry” is absent, almost like a marker for their new sound. ‘She’s So Lovely’ is  as slow paced as ever, and has elements that remind me of fairgrounds and carousels. Legrand’s vocals are warm and hypnotic, a solid consistency with the album. ‘Elegy To The Void’ features warped electronic rotations entwined with a slow meandering riff which both build in stature through the introduction of gentle percussion and a more solid rhythm. ‘ Tracks such as ‘Majorette’ see the guitars pick up the distortion with the whirring synths ringing in the background along with an engaging bass line to generate an detached piece of pop music. This album on the whole is a little more hazy and consistent in it’s aims in that sense which creates a better themed album. The changes from their typical work are subtle, but work well.
 
The dreamy duo will be continuing their European tour and promotion of their new album with their next London dates on Halloween, before making a stop in Amsterdam and Germany.
Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars = 8/10
Hannah Crowe & Owen Riddle

Beach House – Depression Cherry Review

Baltimore’s Dream Pop master duo in Beach House have just released their fifth studio album Depression Cherry and the name really encapsulates the rich yet fading sounds they produce and it seems a likelihood that they will do the same again here. The days when their music was pushing the boundaries was back in 2010 and since then they have maintained a steady course on the same path. Their sound is not one that should be faulted by any means, it is just the fact they’ve struggled to move on from it or have become tied down to it and so it will be intriguing to see which direction they move in now.

‘Sparks’ is a single that develops the sounds featured on their 2012 album Bloom. The washed out and faded vocals of Victoria Legrand are torn through by a shredding guitar riff before embarking on the awkwardly meandering rhythms of the warping organs. This rhythm is then met with the highly wistful and echoed vocals with the occasional shred of a riff leading the song on and in general the more noticeable electronic injection the song has had is a little more welcome. They are masters of the Dream Pop genre and just demonstrate it here. ‘Beyond Love’ opens in a more minimised fashion with the simple, warped organs accentuated by the ringing lead guitar parts and as the whirring sounds build around it, a sort of tragic and sombre harmony develops from Victoria’s vocals. They remain wistful and optimistic in tone, but their echoed and faded filter replace it with a more hopeless and lonesome feel. The emotive feel that is generated from this simple alteration is very noticeable and clever on their part. Tracks such as ’10:37′ work in a similar fashion with the vocal instrumentation adding to the lucidity of the track amongst all of the faded elements.

‘Wildflower’ features those warped organs again as they’re joined by a drum sample and airy riff in what is almost a Dream Pop take on a late Marvin Gaye track. Those vocal sweeps are something that you never tire of even if the warping organs are. The album opener ‘Levitation’ is a little more typical with more chiming electronica working from a warped and whirring foundation, but despite this the subtle fruition of the songs sounds at it’s peak has an element of delicate awe and power to it. ‘Space Song’ is very similar to ‘Wildflower’ with it’s structure with a more prominent bass within it and a more isolated, pop-like vocal for this swooning ballad. This ballad style is taken to an almost church-like level with the closing track ‘Days of Candy’. The album remains a beautiful creation and sees Beach House as graceful and sonically fluid as ever, but this album is only half a step on from their previous work and it doesn’t have enough to be one of the great albums of the year when they really have the potential to make such an album. It is album for a specific mood. If you’re feeling reflective or heartbroken then this is the album for you, but there isn’t much engagement beyond that.

Beach House – Depression Cherry = 8/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Beach House – Sparks

The Baltimore Dream Pop duo that is Beach House return with a new single from their upcoming fifth studio album Depression Cherry which is expected on August 28th. ‘Sparks’ is that single and it is another development on the sounds featured on their 2012 album Bloom. The washed out and faded vocals of Victoria Legrand are torn through by a shredding guitar riff before embarking on the awkwardly meandering rhythms of the warping organs. This rhythm is then met with the highly wistful and echoed vocals with the occasional shred of a riff leading the song on. They are masters of the Dream Pop genre and just demonstrate it here.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995