Despite only being two albums deep into his life as Father John Misty, Josh Tillman is hardly new to the rock world. He joined Seattle folk rock juggernaut Fleet Foxes on drums after the release of their eponymous 2008 debut, remaining a key creative member until the end of the Helplessness Blues tour in 2012. After eight albums of his own released on various labels as J. Tillman, he signed with Sub Pop in 2012 and released Fear Fun, his debut as Father John Misty (“I never liked the name Joshua, I got tired of J.”). “Look out, Hollywood, here I come,” he sings on the album-opening “Fun Times in Babylon,” which could easily be taken as the thesis statement for this entire stage of his career. Misty’s songs give a strange, hazy look at Los Angeles, celebrity, ambition, and failure, backed up by warm country rock that would have been right at home in Topanga Canyon circa 1975. From the terrifying hellstomp of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” to the gonzo misadventures of “I’m Writing A Novel,” Fear Fun walked a tightrope between humor and introspection without ever delving into cheap irony or sappiness. “Joseph Campbell and The Rolling Stones couldn’t give me a myth/So I had to write my own.”
His new album, I Love You, Honeybear, takes that mythology and expands on it. Its characters are hedonistic, horny, casually profane, and lovably human, letting one night stands sprawl into an eternity while they “cheat [their] way through film school.” The record is an exploration of intimacy, inspired in part by his relationship with his now-wife Emma, and it’s flecked with wry observations and open-vein confessions. Current single “True Affection” follows in the footsteps of Reflektor and Digital Witness, eyeing the effects of technology on our interactions: “When can we take with the face/Instead of using all these strange devices?”
On “Bored in the USA,” he bemoans “a useless education and a subprime loan,” and foresees “a lifetime to consider all the ways/I’ve grown more disappointing to you as my beauty warps and fades.” But “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” is the great miracle of I Love You, Honeybear. Set at Hollywood’s iconic Chateau Marmont, Misty evokes the giddy glee of falling in love, but with his own skewed perspective: “I haven’t hated all the same things as someone else since I remember.” You can’t help but having somewhat the same feeling listening to his music--a strange, unexpected connection, a recognition of something you could never quite pinpoint suddenly brought to life in warm high fidelity.
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Friday, June 5, 4:00 PM, Yeatman’s Cove Stage