Review: Father John Misty

‘I Love You, Honeybear’
February 17, 2015

It’s interesting, so early in the year, to see an album that is not only going to undoubtedly clean up at award ceremonies everywhere, but form a sort of precedent for other records for the rest of 2015.

It’s Father John Misty – who you may know better as Joshua Tillman, former drummer of Fleet Foxes – releasing his second album under the moniker; another stunning departure from the family-friendly Fleet Foxes. Though as interesting as 2012’s Fear Fun, I Love You Honeybear is less soaked in psychedelia, self-aggrandising and lust, and more, as he puts it himself, “a concept album about Josh Tillman”.

It’s stunning in that it’s essentially a concept piece about ‘real’ love, complete with existential crises and that oft-lamented leap of faith. But it throws curveballs – like canned laughter tracks after otherwise gloomy choruses – to laugh at Tillman’s commentaries of love, of modern-day America, of drug reliance. Reminiscent of some of John Lennon’s later material or, more obviously, Elton John’s 1970s gems.

For a cohesive concept album, I Love You, Honeybear is very confusing. It seems to flit in and out of this persona Tillman has created – the Father John Misty character who he says is “all of me and none of me” and the reality, in which Tillman has just been married to cinematographer Emma Garr. From dry, sarcastic irony to grand admissions of love, grandiloquence to understatedness in mere seconds, this duality is nothing but entertaining.

Even if the sometimes torturous lyrics fail to speak to you, or you can’t get inside Misty’s head as the record twists and turns through the highs and lows of affection, the album is still near-impossible to hate. Its music is easy, soaring, cathartic, at times delirious. Whatever the adjective, I Love You, Honeybear is indulgent, moving and a downright triumph.

‘I Love You Honeybear’ is available in Australia now, on Sub Pop via Inertia.

Watch: Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)