I Love You, Honeybear, the latest offering from Father John Misty is absolutely incredible.
J. Tillman, formerly released morose solo efforts and drummed for the Fleet Foxes, but since adopting the Father John Misty moniker, he has penned pseudo-shamanistic, sarcastic and tuneful music, and while I Love You, Honeybear could accurately be characterized as folk rock and acts on some melancholy impulses, it’s a stark departure from anything Tillman has made before, including his last release under the Father John Misty name, Fear Fun.
Despite having an intentionally sophomoric title, I Love You, Honeybear is a deceptively mature album. Luckily, even with mature themes and a mature sound, Tillman’s humor remains in tact.
Honeybear mines the singer-songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s for its sonic cues. There are elements of baroque pop and folk music. There are a few ballads, notable “Bored in the U.S.A.”, and one stomp-along rocker, the scathing “The Ideal husband”. Still, the common through line is that almost everything could be described as well-crafted baroque pop. “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Cow” moves effortlessly from steel guitar to boozy clarinet and feels perfectly in place on the same album as the mariachi horns present in”Chateau Lobby #4(In C for Two Virgins”
The lyrics are sharp, funny and sometimes poignant. Tillman recently married, and I Love You, Honeybear captures a sarcastic cynic, who imagined marriage as, “a passionate obligation to a roommate,” reconciling his identity with sincere love and the happiness his recent marriage has brought into his life. Feeling transcendence through love while also acknowledging occasional creeping feelings of futility and ennui, while admitting he’s suddenly the type of person, who believes in transcendent love is, for the most part, the album’s major theme.
Of course, there are still a few diversions, including “The Night Josh Tillman Came to our Apartment”, which mostly exists to hilariously skewer a certain type of millennial, but some of the totally out-there batshittery found on Fear Fun is totally absent here. In my opinion, a little grounding grants I Love You, Honeybear some emotional heft, which is entirely appropriate for an album so interested in exploring classic love in a modern setting. Also, after “The Ideal Husband” wraps up it’s brutally self-effacing and confessional spew, it’d be an odd change of pace to hear about talking dogs or ass-to-face skin grafts.
I Love You, Honeybear certainly does not suffer from daring to be different from its 2012 predecessor.
The pretty good, often goofy artist who made Fear Fun has crafted one of 2015’s best albums so far.
Father John Misty blends wry humor with an honest portrait of a relationship and excellent, mature pop music in a fantastically winning way on what will probably be a strong contender for the best album of 2015.