By Matt Rocke
God’s Favourite Customer – Father John Misty (Sub Pop)
It’s winter and Father John Misty rolls in like a self-styled savant, preaching a new set of truths, for a new age, from an era past.
His fourth LP release builds on mainstreaming success of 2017’s Pure Comedy, a wry and witty statement of observations and insight.
God’s Favourite Customer navigates a similar, even more personal vein; although punk rockers Green Day may have beaten him to the punch on the album title, calling their recent greatest hits collection, ‘God’s Favourite Band’.
The last interview I read with Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, was couched in the hue of him coming off acid in LA. Who does that nowadays? Especially in LA! But in a world that considers wearing crazy socks with a suit and tie as rebellion Misty is the real deal and a welcome relief from the technocratic chaos of a new century in its teens.
The new album ends much better than it starts. At times the opening arrangements move ahead of the lyrical journey. There’s self pity, a few too many key changes and some long winded and deliberate production. The clarity of a rock riff, used so well on 2012’s Fear Fun is sadly absent.
Fortunately the trip improves. Misty burns the breakup demons and ‘Just Dumb Enough to Try’ pears back the jumble to revel a focused ballad on the fragility of relationships. The good Father then rolls a tighter number. ‘Date Night’, a two and a half minute triumph of tambourine and distorted keyboard psycho-pop is a confidence highlight.
Streams of consciousness on piano such as ‘The Palace’ and ‘The Songwriter’ follow and are raw and beautiful. Sandwiched in between are cries for dignity and an admission by Tillman he “wants to take it easy on the morbid stuff”.
Misty is most powerful when keenly noting the contradictions of the human condition. The momentum of his convictions and the evocative theatre that closes the album are a graceful and holy welcome signature.
As a modern muse, one would hope much of the album’s expressions of pain are in the rear view for Father John Misty. Let’s hope there’s some more reverence and a re-emergence of his rockstar side when the seasons inevitably change for the better.