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 – 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

2017 Review – Best Songwriting

Our votes for Best Songwriting are as follows…

3. Kendrick Duckworth & Patrick Douthit – Kendrick Lamar – Duckworth (18.18%)

2. Sampha Sisay – Sampha – Blood On Me (22.73%)

1. Joshua Tillman – Father John Misty – Pure Comedy (27.27%)

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 Reviews – Father John Misty – Ballad of the Dying Man, Two Widely Different Perspectives 


Joshua Tillman a.k.a Father John Misty will release his third studio album Pure Comedy on April 7th and has released two tracks this week to follow up on the release of the title track of the album the week before. Seemingly, he is taking the role of a by-standing narrator for the world around him, a world which he believes is becoming so far fetched that it’s at best hilarious and at worst terrifying. In what is to be a very political album, he lays his attack on everyone and that “we’re all complicit” for the state of the world today and suggested that we all have a lot of questions to ask ourselves. No one is really safe from Tillman’s narrative and that’s what makes it so fixating. 

‘The Ballad of the Dying Man’ is an example of such writing. 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 both 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. 

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

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

Sunday Suggestion – Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

Father John Misty is the guise of folk singer/songwriter; Joshua Tillman from Baltimore and is, himself a former member of Fleet Foxes. He’s a great character who often talks of his “Culturally Oppressive” childhood as a result of his Evangelical parents. He’s largely estranged from them but does talk to them annually. A blunt statement that is both refreshing and a little satirical and this is part of his appeal. In 2009 he grew tired of recording as Josh Tillman and wanted a change which he explains “I kind of wanted to confuse people with this ridiculous red herring [and] admittedly patently ridiculous name that’s also phonetically beautifully and looks good in print. Sort of a name I’ve decided to give to this weird, subconscious, dream fragmentation I have of this homosexual, shamanic drifter who bounces around [and] stirs up weird shit in my dreams. Like making out with my brother. So I guess the aggregate of all those things just felt right. But really and truly, the whole thing is just kind of about the fact that it really doesn’t matter what the fuck you call yourself, as long as the goods are in the explicit honesty” Couldn’t have said it better myself. His first album as FJM is 2012’s Fear Fun. It’s kind of oxymoronic itself and aptly the album saw him shift his style fuelled by disillusionment with music and his own songwriting as well as being fuelled by “enough mushrooms to choke a horse” and the petrol that took him along the west coast as he effectively wrote a novel. A song that shines for me is ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ which is the most prolific track off the album. I seen him perform it on Sky Arts or whatever and was clearly impressed. The track is evocative of his no nonsense approach both musically and lyrically. The instrumental structure is born out of the highly charged, lazy strikes of his guitar which has it’s echo bounce around the track and take the rigidity out of the sound that is still anchored enough by the stomping percussion and is given glimmers of light with smashes of the tambourine. He’s laid out the song in such a simple way, yet has maximised the potential space created as a result, while still being able to have a solid form and rhythm to latch on to. This allows his vocal and lyrics to shine through too and these are accentuated by the distant, wailing harmonies behind him. I wonder if his parents have listened to him singing ‘Jesus Christ Girl’ repeatedly? You can only smile at the thought of it!