Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

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Father John Misty: I Went to the Store One Day
Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

Before we even address the music on this new album by Josh Tillman (aka FJMisty) who was previously in Fleet Foxes, let's just tip the hat to the value-added packaging here.

The gatefold sleeve comes with a pop-up centrefold, there's a large fold-out poster with lyrics on one side, and a booklet with "Exercises for Listening" which reads a bit like a 21st century computer-literate update of Yoko Ono's instructions in her Grapefruit book: "Watch everything change. Watch everything change again" and "Buy a piece of consumer technology which will undoubtedly be obsolete in 50 years".

Needless to say, Misty/Tillman also writes interesting lyrics which can be slightly cynical (Bored in the USA which, despite the punk allusions of its title is actually a piano ballad), obliquely self-referential (When You're Smiling and Astride Me) and socio-political (the folksy Holy Shit).

He's the kind of guy who can write a gentle pop song which can adeptly skewer a woman who misuses the word "literally" on The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt ("and the malaprops make me wanna fucking scream, I wonder if she even knows what that word means"). And also offer up some smart images: "She blackens pages like a Russian Romantic and gets down more often than a blow-up doll".

So he's smart cookie but here wraps his lyrics in often delightfully airy melodies and sometimes you could imagine him as the lovechild of Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson (the air-filled Nothing Good Evert Happens at the Thirsty Crow), or the Shoes in the studio with George Martin persuading them into folk-ballad mode while writing out the orchestrations.

There is a lot of love here (he has a new wife), but it is rarely simple and mostly enjoyed with wry twists. Although the emotionally direct I Went to the Store One Day right at the end is an elementally simple, string-coloured story of their first encounter.

FJMisty keeps well clear of sentimentality and yet somehow that comes through, but with subtlety.

A repeat-play album for sure. 

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