Reviewed By Christopher Hollow.
Josh Tillman is Father John Misty. Whoever Father John Misty is, is a pretty intriguing cat — an intriguing cat who’s released an incredibly intriguing album.
If most music is not keen enough for you, not capacious or minute enough? Not mad or beautiful enough? Then launch yourself into I Love You, Honeybear – a record that in 20 years will pinpoint exactly what you were doing in 2015.
I Love You, Honeybear succeeds in being both grand and microscopic in its scope. The music is big and brazen; incredibly well-produced by Laurel Canyon star-sailor, Jonathan Wilson.
But it’s the scattershot wordplay that will keep listeners coming back for more. And the lyrics are thrilling in their execution, littered with jokes both obvious and intricate.
Are they conceived randomly via a cut-up style method? Or worked and worked and worked until they achieve that same effect?
Whatever the case they play out like an acid trip. The focus firmly on the wonder of the microscopic, even banal — Have the last of the smokes and chicken — and as the banalities pile on top of each other they begin to equal something expansive: Good luck fingering oblivion.
Seeing FJM live, he’s a sexy guy, and throwing sex into the mix is a recurring motif throughout the record – it’ll either leave you laughing or cringing. Maybe both.
“Oh honeybear, honeybear, honeybear,” Tillman sings with gleefully abandon on the title track, before adding: ‘Mascara, blood, ash, and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love.”
The Gene Clark No Other style music and backing vocals for When You’re Smiling and Astride Me positively pulsate with desire. The lyric has this inspired stanza: “I’ve got nothing to hide from you/ Kissing my brother in my dreams or finding God knows in my jeans” before revealing some self-truth: “You see me as I am, it’s true/Aimless, fake drifter, and the horny manchild mama’s boy to boot.”
The centrepiece song is Chateau Lobby 4 [in C for Two Virgins] a swoony mix of romance, grit and border trumpets. “I wanna take you in the kitchen,” Tillman sings before letting us in on what he’s really thinking. “Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in. So bourgeoisie to keep waiting/ Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian.”
Bored in the USA is in insight into Tillman’s sense of humour. The song was premiered on David Letterman’s late-night show and, it turns out, the awkward laughter that it inspired from Letterman’s audience was actually a laugh-track embedded in the song. Now, it must’ve been funny to hear the real awkward laughter inspired by the track’s awkward laughter as Tillman detailed, in straight-faced ironic fashion, his difficulties.
This is not music that will settle in the background, if it’s playing you’ll be drawn into it. It’ll make you decide, and that’s why it will resonate. I Love You Honeybear is strong enough to demand attention, and put a dent in your defences.