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Cynicism & love in modern times
BHANUJ KAPPAL  30th May 2015

I Love You, Honeybear

Father John Misty

Sub Pop

Father John Misty is the goofy, cynical, overwhelmingly self-aware alter-ego of Joshua Tillman, the American folk-singer probably best known for his stint as drummer for choral-folk outfit Fleet Foxes. He has been putting out middling solo records since 2004, but he's only recently started grabbing attention with the satirical, almost cartoonish persona of Father John Misty, whose origin story involves hallucinogenic epiphanies and other '70s rocker cliches. His 2012 album, Fear Fun, was a trip through narcotised, absurdist worlds full of Canadian shamans and death-obsessed love songs, leading one reviewer to call him "The Grand Fool of folk rock". On FJM's sophomore release, I Love You, Honeybear, he turns his attention to romance, deconstructing that favourite pop trope with humour and warm-hearted tenderness.

The "Honeybear" in question is his wife, cinematographer Emma Garr, and she acts as the muse for most of these songs. Tillman seems surprised that love could happen to as hip, hedonistic and flawed a character as him, and this album is a non-chronological exploration of the process and the contradictions that surround it. On the titular opening track, he introduces the listener to the quirky nature of their romance, while True Affection is an electro-Sufjan Stevensesque song about the loss of intimacy in our tech-mediated interactions. Tillman mixes gallows humour, narcissism, self-loathing and sincerity on songs like album highlight The Ideal Husband, where he lists his deficiencies and sins ("Didn't call when grandma died/ I spend my money getting drunk and high") before the both sardonic and sincere ending of "Wouldn't I be the ideal husband?" And then there's the Randy Newman inspired Bored In The USA, which strays from the theme for four and a half minutes of laconic, witty attacks on the American dream. But Tillman keeps coming back to Emma, and the last track, I Went To The Store One Day, is an unembellished, heartwarming account of their first meeting, ending with the first lines he ever said to her. It's the perfect ending to an amazing record that documents the weird, twisted ways in which millennials deal with true love.

 
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