After a handful of stark solo folk albums Josh Tillman quit his day job as drummer for Fleet Foxes and re-emerged as Father John Misty with a new sound that was bursting with dramatic pop songs and kaleidoscopic lyrical images. It now seems that on Fear Fun Tillman was only warming up as I Love You Honeybear dials up the musical saturation and dives deep into the cosmic and terrestrial depths of love.
Lyrically Tillman has taken his own experience of love and marriage and approaches it from multiple angles – the long distance trials of ‘True Affection’, it’s physical manifestation on ‘When You’re Smiling And Astride Me’ and the wider absence of love and stimulation on ‘Bored In The USA’. His confessional style means his songs can be both brutally honest and direct while also guilty of appearing aloof and archly theatrical. At one point he confesses he’s “The aimless, fake drifter and the horny, man-child, Mamma’s boy to boot.” That’s the complex dichotomy of Father John Misty, creating poetry out of the mundane with the skill of a lyricist such as Morrissey.
Jonathan Wilson produced the album and he and Tillman have allowed themselves free rein to use a wide palette of sounds and styles, from Mariachi horns, electronica, soulful grooves and rich string arrangements. What hasn’t changed and what also makes the album so rewarding is Tillman’s melodic nous. As a result I Love You Honeybear is a collection of baroque, literate pop songs that reveal new layers of sonic and lyrical detail on each listen.
this review was first published in The Music