Some praise him as the savior of songwriting, others loathe him for his dry sense of humor and seemingly pretentious aura, but there’s no getting around the fact that Father John Misty has become a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. His most recent album, Pure Comedy, was released to much critical acclaim, and ended up being nominated for two Grammys. Pure Comedy is a heavy, depressing, monster of an album, and though extremely clever and self-aware, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Though some may turn their noses up at Pure Comedy, many tend to favor the efforts of Josh Tillman (the man behind Misty) on his sophomore album, entitled I Love You, Honeybear. From the bold orchestrations and dark romantic flair of the opening and title track, it’s clear to see that there’s something undoubtedly special about this album.
Tillman himself described Honeybear as a concept album, which addresses his relationship with his wife and takes an indepth look at himself from the inside out.
From both a musical and lyrical standpoint, Honeybear stands out as one of the most eloquent records of 2015. The gorgeous instrumentals and production intertwine magnificently with Tillman’s clear, crooning vocals and ironic, cynical words.
Tillman explores themes of love, hate, skepticism, and everything in between throughout his sophomore release, all while creating a musical atmosphere that fits perfectly with the words that he sings. In the track “True Affection,” Misty wonders, “When can we talk / with the face / instead of using all these strange devices?” in the midst of a swirling, purposefully chaotic electronic synth pattern. On the frantic “Ideal Husband,” Tillman lists off his flaws and mistakes, wondering if these things make him an desirable lover. The raw sarcasm of these lyrics are belted within a flurry of wailing guitars and piercing piano, bringing his woes and worries to life.
I Love You, Honeybear is a record tied to Josh Tillman’s deepest thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It’s one thing to possess such an intriguing viewpoint on life, but Tillman’s ability to display his mind through art is such a moving fashion is truly a rare talent. Honeybear is thought-provoking throughout, and at times both humorous and heart wrenching. It’s not a romantic album, it’s not a political album, but it’s an album which conveys a man’s soul and most intricate feelings. Despite your feelings about Father John Misty, that’s a musical move to be applauded.
By: Yasmin Ettobi