Los Angeles – There is no doubt that Father John Misty is the most interesting person living in Los Angeles. Okay, perhaps the previous statement is a bit overreaching when one considers the sheer density and diversity of artists dwelling in the oft-maligned metropolis. But the yarns which are spun on I Love You, Honeybear only serve to prove that the singer-songwriter is LA’s most captivating denizen. Meandering its way through eleven stories of late night debauchery, innocence lost, and middle-class antipathy, Father John Misty’s second full-length release for Sub Pop Records is destined to be a Southern Californian singer-songwriter classic in the vein of Randy Newman’s Trouble in Paradise.
Father John Misty is the pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist and former Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman. Released February 10th, I Love You, Honeybear comes almost three years after his well-received debut full-length for Sub Pop, Fear Fun. Under the Father John Misty persona, Tillman is free to explore the depths of a character that reaches the highest pinnacles and the lowest nadirs – from the ecstatic, drug-fueled verses of “I Love You, Honeybear” and “True Affection,” to the bitter, dispassionate chorus of “Bored in the USA.” Lyrically, Father John Misty would be considered a bit long-winded and verbose if it wasn’t for the fact that his storytelling is just so charismatic. Despite the dramatics that unfold within I Love You, Honeybear, Misty approaches his songwriting with a wit and sarcasm that prevents the stories from becoming bogged down in dry self-seriousness.
At times, I Love You, Honeybear almost feels like a stand-up routine. Lines such as “She says ‘Like, music is literally the air I breathe’/And the malapropos make me want to fucking scream/I wonder if she even knows what that word means/Well it’s ‘literally’ not that” from the very wordy “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment” are the perfect example of the blend of humor and resentment that peak through in Father John Misty’s songwriting. Nearly everyone knows a person like the girl that is the subject of this song, but few are capable of succinctly and accurately describing their disdain as is accomplished on this track.
From a musical standpoint, the production value on I Love You, Honeybear is extremely impressive. Behind the melodic tales that Father John Misty relays to his listeners are rich orchestral and string arrangements. This additional instrumentation only supplements emotions in the Misty’s storytelling without completely overpowering it. In fact, there is not a single track on this album that does not include some sort of string arrangement, giving what would be fairly simplistic folk songs added range and depth.
I Love You, Honeybear is an album that takes the listener on a voyage all over modern day Los Angeles. “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” takes part of its title from the famous Silver Lake watering hole on Sunset Boulevard, while “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” catapults the listener to two new lovers’ bedroom in an opulent hotel. Other tracks are set at less specific locations, such as at his apartment (“Strange Encounter”) or the parking lot of a grocery store (“I Went To The Store One Day”).
I Love You, Honeybear sees Josh Tillman expanding upon the concept of Father John Misty, and in the process has created his best album as a solo artist. There are very few weak moments on the album, and while some of the songs are less memorable as stand-alone tracks, they work well within the framework of the album. While it is very early in the year, I Love You, Honeybear is poised to top many critics year-end best-of lists in December.