WVAU’s #3 Album of 2015: "I Love You, Honeybear" by Father John Misty

Luke Palermo

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Courtesy of Wikipedia

In I Love You, Honeybear Josh Tillman AKA Father John Misty takes a big, gaudy, rhinestone-lined heart and sews it onto his sleeve for all to see. According to Tillman, himself, the album is a concept album of his life, and it focuses very heavily on the past, present, and future relationship with his wife Emma. From the opening/title track, it is clear that deep down Tillman is a huge softy that just wants to let the whole world know how much he loves his honeybear. The song is a loud, boisterous, borderline-grandiose ode to the apple of his eye, with luscious strings and Tillman‰’s wholesome voice belting out from the rooftops.

Thankfully, Tillman isn‰’t afraid to continue expressing his genuine affection throughout the album. “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” is an upbeat track that chronicles the first time that Tillman and his wife explored Los Angeles together, with energetic percussion and a horn section that mirror the intense impression that it left on him. “When You‰’re Smiling And Astride Me‰” is a sweet but quieter track that reflects a more insecure aspect to love ‰ÛÒ “When you’re smiling and astride me / I can hardly believe I’ve found you and I’m terrified by that.‰” The psych rock-esque guitar solos, multiple vocal layers, and soulful organ give a dreamy, ethereal quality, not unlike the feeling you get when smiling and astride your better half.

While the theme of overwhelming romantic affection is a heavy element of the album, it doesn’t fail to take some unexpected and refreshing. Tillman doesn‰’t shy away from the more reckless times in his life where he was “engaging in all manner of regrettable behavior,‰” and “The Ideal Husband‰” is a greatest-hits reel of his debauchery ‰ÛÒ a retrospective recounting of every questionable thing that he‰’s ever done, with a sarcastic rhetorical question at the end wrapping it up nicely. “Bored In the USA‰” perhaps strays the furthest thematically, dealing more with the social climate in America rather than his Tillman‰’s own relationships. The track showcases his penchant for clever, tongue-in-cheek lyricism as he croons about subprime loans, craftsman homes, erectile dysfunction, and begging President Jesus for salvation over a lonely piano ballad.

Musically, the album has its roots set very deep in the indie folk/baroque rock realm, but there are some noticeable standouts. “Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow‰” is a smooth, mellow country blues track about a bar that he loves to hate. “True Affection‰” takes an extremely unexpected electronic turn, replacing the acoustic guitars and lonely pianos with swirling synths and an electronic drum beat. The sudden turn is a little more appropriate when considering the fact that it deals with the idea of “trying to woo someone with text message and email,‰” and once it ends it flows right back into a soulful folk track. ‰

“I Went To The Store One Day‰Û, the final track, is a very gentle track with carefully plucked guitar and a beautiful but subtle string section. The lyrics are intensely personal, as Tillman phases through the past, present, and future as he recounts his entire relationship: the first encounter in a grocery store parking lot, how they hate all the same things, and someday fulfilling all of their sweetest dreams. The very last lines of the album are the first words that the two ever exchanged, a poetic bookend for a beautifully heartfelt collection of love songs.