Josh Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes (and a solo run as J. Tillman), received critical acclaim as newly-monikered Father John Misty in 2012 with Fear Fun. Since then, a lot has happened to the man and his alter ego, including meeting and marrying his wife Emma. Thus comes I Love You, Honeybear, his cheeky, self-deprecating, romantic sophomore album.
I Love You, Honeybear has also received much critical acclaim this past week (it was officially released on Tuesday) and I couldn’t agree with the reception more. This album, as Stereogum’s Tom Breihan put it, knocked me flat on my ass. I haven’t made it a day since I received it in my inbox without listening to it at least once.
It’s expansive, lush and beautiful music, with a 70’s full-band folk feel (save for synth-leaning “True Affection,” which, you could infer by its lyrics on communication technology, has that musical accompaniment on purpose). “Bored in the USA” calls to mind both musically and vocally, Elton John (think “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.”) And the lyrics! They’re scathing in their sardonic/apathetic/this world is bullshit declarations, but they happen to come right alongside vividly descriptive and intimately sexy ruminations on his new-found love and situations couples find themselves in; “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” is about the all-consuming jealousy felt while one or the other is away; “Strange Encounter” recounts a one night stand before realizing he wants to get his act together but is afraid to do so, etc.
He wonders fearfully, and somewhat luridly, where this love puts him in the scheme of things, and decides he really doesn’t care. The world is goin’ down and he’s just along for the ride; happy (and nervous) to have found love when he wasn’t looking to share it with, a love that also quite frankly doesn’t give a fuck. He fills lines that could be otherwise chock full of cheese with generalizations like “Insert here a sentiment re: our golden years” or the weirdly relatable “I haven’t hated the same things as somebody else since I remember,” which are cute in their own biting way. He does get nakedly honest on album closer “I Went To The Store One Day,” a simple song about their meeting… but even then the song isn’t completely devoid of sarcastic lyrics.
It’s intense, harsh, and lovely at once. Stream the full album below via YouTube, plus video from his awesome canned-laughter-filled Letterman performance of “Bored in the USA” and for one of my favorite cuts “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”.
This week, FJM is here for two official shows at Rough Trade tonight and Bowery on Saturday (for a fitting Valentine’s Day performance). Both are very sold out. In addition, he played WNYC’s Soundcheck Green Space yesterday during lunchtime (watch the full performance here), and will play Urban Outfitters’ Space Ninety 8 in Williamsburg tomorrow evening 7-9, complete with record signings and a literal tent full of merchandise.