I have been in a bit of a slump in 2012 with my music. I’m not sure if it is just a matter of me not finding the right stuff to listen to or if there is a lack of great albums being released. I’ve been itching for my first ten star review, but nothing has inspired me. That is, not until I heard Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun. Finally, an album that from start to finish leaves me completely satisfied. Almost like how Tim feels in the warm embrace of Brando’s cuddly arms.
Most people know J. Tillman as the former Fleet Foxes drummer, but he has put out 8 solo albums. His latest is under the moniker Father John Misty and it is KILLER. Fear Fun touches me in all the right places and the beautiful melodies give me repeated and long lasting eargasms. I’ve never really listened to a J. Tillman solo album, but the other 7 are now on my ‘must listen’ list. Therefore, I can only compare this album to what I know from Tillman’s work in Fleet Foxes.
Overall, the sound is a little less folky and a little less hippy then what I'm accustomed to from Tillman. A couple of tracks even verge on the edge of ‘country sounding’ with a little help from a twangy slide guitar and honky tonk piano. Imagine that the Fleet Foxes wrapped themselves in a tortilla made by the Flying Burrito Brothers. Other tracks are darker and some are slower, but they all have a couple of things in common. They are straightforward. They have unbelievable melodies. They have warm harmonies. And they have flawless instrumentation.
I have never been a big lyrics guy. Most of the time I pretty much dismiss the words while I get lost in melodies, but the clarity of Tillman’s voice makes it impossible to ignore the stories told. They draw you into to this interesting person who likes to drink, smoke and get fresh with the ladies. After listening to this album I feel like I lived through one of the most insane nights and woke up with a tiger in my bathroom and a pierced scrotum. I knew I did bad things that I will regret, but the stories I’ll be able to tell will be shameful and EPIC at the same time.
Tillman insist that Father John Misty is not a character or alter-ego. This brutally honest self reflection make the the tracks more appealing and courageous. The listener is treated to some great lyrical imagery like in the song Nancy From Now On Tillman croons: “Every man wears a symbol. And I know I have mine. I've got my right hand stamped, In the concentration camp, where my organs scream "slow down, man!" A humbling realization from, what I imagine to be, a man who wakes up in the morning with whiskey breath next to a loose woman he picked up the previous night from a bar with a cover charge.
And speaking of Tillman’s clear crooning, we get frequent glimpses of that cathedral like voice prevalent in Fleet Foxes songs, but the listener is also treated to an incredible falsetto, raspy shouts and other changes in timbre that at times mimic Lyle Lovett or Roy Orbison. Coming from an individual that doesn’t have enough vocal control to accurately sing the ABC’s, the diversity this asshole makes me want to hit him in the Adam’s apple with a stick. Dude, share your talent with me so that we can harmonize together when I invite you to my drum circle next week. I have a hookah, a fire pit, and some marshmallows. It will be doppppppppe. A little more key than you are used to, but doppppppe.
This is normally the part in the review when I talk about my favorite song, but I’m going to skip it. I can’t choose a favorite. All the songs are so great and interesting in their own way. Fear Fun has been on repeat for two days straight and I’m confident that it will be my soundtrack for the rest of May. If you haven’t already, go check this album out.