By Jason Herring, March 19 2015 —
When Josh Tillman, former drummer for the popular folk band Fleet Foxes, began releasing his own music he called himself Father John Misty.
On his first album, Fear Fun, Tillman seemed to be writing detached music under an impersonal alias. While the psychedelic-rock escapades of his first album were enjoyable, the emotional distance of the music prevented Fear Fun from being a truly great album.
That’s why I Love You, Honeybear, Tillman’s sophomore album as Father John Misty, feels like such an incredible change. A lot of music in the indie scene is marred by cynicism and an unwillingness to express emotions, so it’s refreshing to hear such earnest expression on an album.
Most songs revolve around Tillman’s wife, Emma, whom he married in between the release of his two albums. The low-key and romantic “I Went to the Store One Day” is a recollection of when the couple met in the parking lot of a convenience store, and takes a retrospective look at their relationship.
Still, Tillman hasn’t entirely grown out of the pessimism that characterized his old work. Much of the album sees the singer struggling to come to terms with his feelings of love. The singer’s sarcastic asides about romance and mortality are a big part of what makes the album so enjoyable.
This can be seen in the optimistic “Holy Shit,” where Tillman sings, “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity / What I fail to see is what that’s got to do with you and me.”
Musically, the album is beautiful, bouncing between layered chamber pop arrangements in “Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins),” and Elton John-esque piano in the hilarious “Bored in the USA.”
I Love You, Honeybear is a gorgeous and honest album that offers a pure and unfiltered look at the ways love can change someone. The record’s sincerity gives it a weight that few singer-songwriter albums have.