• Scout Ehrler

Artist Profile: Father John Misty

Josh Tillman, better known as Father John Misty, is an American singer, drummer, producer extraordinaire. His career took off when he joined the indie folk band, Fleet Foxes. Fleet Foxes had moderate success in the alternative scene, but when they split in 2012, Father John Misty went on to hold a steady solo career.

Father John Misty’s solo act began with the album Fear Fun. He has released a total of four full-length albums under this moniker.

The Great Father is known for his cynicism and Machiavellian view of the world. With admittedly pretentious undertones, his music is larger than life and beautifully crafted. Every album is an experience — each album tells a tale.

His sophomore album, I Love You, Honeybear, is a sweetly cynical tale of love. From beginning to end, the track list holds diversity and consistent musical and lyrical strength. The album begins with two love songs, juxtaposed by opposing undertones. The titular track “I Love You, Honeybear,” is an ironic anthem of dark love. The first chorus is, “Everything is doomed / And nothing will be spared / But I love you, honeybear,” which is a perfect indicator of the mood of the album as a whole. The following track, “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C For Two Virgins)” is an explicit love letter to Tillman’s wife, Emma. Nothing but sweet, this song is a highlight for me. Despite Father John Misty’s misanthropic nature, this album is a perfect display of his ability to love and to be loved. Other notable tracks, such as “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me,” are unadulteratedly sweet. If I were to describe this album in two words, it would be sweetly cynical.

As we move down The Father’s discography, the cynicism grows. Pure Comedy, released in 2017, is significantly angrier than its predecessor. In many ways, Pure Comedy is a response to the political climate in America after the 2016 election. Pushing the themes of love aside, Father John Misty focus on the fatalistic realities all around us. His social commentary, while oftentimes controversial, is comedic and significant. One line in particular that hits the nail on the head is, “Bedding Taylor Swift / Every night inside the Oculus Rift.” As you could imagine, Taylor Swift was not a fan of this sexual jab. Pure Comedy is Father John Misty’s shot at a grandiose view of reality, stepping away from the romanticism of I Love You, Honeybear, and he hit the bullseye.

Father John Misty exudes a type of angst that isn’t often displayed in music. He views the world through a less juvenile and more realistic lens than what we usually think of when angst comes to mind. If you’re trying to escape reality, avoid his discography, but if you want a brutally honest and crippling perception of the world around us, Father John Misty is the artist for you.

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