Joshua Tillman, known as Father John Misty, is one of the few artists in the music industry who voices his opinion on society and life in his music. With his new album I Love You, Honeybear, Father John Misty delves into some life-changing events of the past few years and how there is a distinct split between his generation and young adults.
The title track is a avant-garde, bleak love letter to his wife, Emma Tillman, about their relationship. Odd visuals are laid on top of a chill-rock instrumentation, with Josh crooning
The future can’t be real, I barely know how long a moment is
Unless we’re naked, getting high on the mattress
While the global market crashes
As death fills the streets with garden variety oblivious
You grab my hand and say in an “I told you so” voice:
“It’s just how we expected”
Everything is doomed
And nothing will be spared
But I love you, honeybear
This contrast between the dark subject matter of the lyrics paired with more upbeat music is throughout the album. My personal favourite song on the album would be the second track, “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for 2 Virgins)”, which is about Emma and John going around LA and some background on how their relationship started. The mariachi band is very fitting to give the song a happy-go-lucky feel and with lyrics like “You left a note in your perfect script: “Stay as long as you want”, I haven’t left your bed since…What’s going on for? What are you doing with your whole life? How about forever?” you can’t help but smile and sway along.
Father John Misty’s dislike with the naivety of young people these days is displayed in the meta-titled “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment”, where the female in the song keeps saying things that don’t make sense, and pissing Josh off, such as “She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes, And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream. I wonder if she even knows what that word means. Well, it’s literally not that.”
The proclamation of love and details of Josh’s relationship continue throughout the album in the songs “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”, “Nothing Ever Good Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow” and “I Went To The Store One Day”.
The biggest protest songs on the album are near the end; “Bored In The USA” and “Holy Shit” rip apart the middle-class lifestyle that has become the norm over the past 50-60 years. Drug dependence, huge amounts of debt, high standards of living and the fusing of church and state are brought to the forefront in “Bored In The USA”, while being backed by a laugh-track reminiscent of sitcoms.
Every song is distinct in its sound, which varies from folk, to heavier rock to electronic rock. This causes the album to be very hard to categorize under a specific genre. Nevertheless, this album is extremely thought-provoking and the time it takes to listen to it (around 45 minutes) flies by and has you reaching for Play again and again.
Here is the full album courtesy of Sub Pop Records.