30 Jun Artist of the Week: Father John Misty
Don’t be my last strange encounter
Enter our first artist of the week, Father John Misty. FJM is compelling group led by frontman Joshua Tillman, a semi-kind-of-almost well known singer-songwriter from Fleet Foxes fame (which is another excellent band, if you guys haven’t checked them out yet). Post-Foxes Tillman also released a slew of EPs, singles, and a few albums under the moniker of J. Tillman, but in 2012 left that name to create this beautifully blissful project.
Father John Misty is a different beast entirely from either of his previous incarnations. In Fleet Foxes, being the drummer caused him to often be behind the lead singer Robin Pecknold, and he was rarely heard at full volume. His previous albums as J. Tillman seem almost a bit… empty? Like the sound of a man who has not yet discovered himself, and is searching for an identity.
And holy shit, am I glad he finally found it.
The first album Father John Misty released, Fear Fun (2012), is a wonderful album, where Tillman seems to completely let go and shed his skin. The results are absolutely fantastic, fun, and wildly entertaining. While there are some tracks that can seem somber at moments, such as “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and “Only Son of the Ladies Man”, the album retains a very playful and energetic vibe that promotes absolute bliss in anyone who finds it. Songs like “Nancy From Now On”, and “I’m Writing a Novel” are such a delightful departure from both Fleet Foxes and J. Tillman, and are composed beautifully by Tillman.
FJM’s second album, entitled I Love You Honeybear (2015), is impossible to describe. It’s as passionate as it is frustrated, and so self-loathing that it can be painful. But it is one of the most gorgeous albums that has ever been composed. It’s very hard for me to flesh out an opinion about an album that means so much to myself. Tillman surrounds all of his sincerity with jokes, seemingly created out of a disdain for himself, and the state of the world in general. I think Pitchfork said it best, “[He’s] like a dog trying to compulsively cover up its own shit”. He doesn’t feel like he’s worth what he has, but he also doesn’t seem to believe the world deserves what he has to offer.
I agree with him.
Tillman is a wonderfully sweet and sad artist, and his stage presence is unmatched. He is as energetic as he is humorous between songs, and while singing he dances like he just does not give a fuck. I think he does, he’s just very good at covering it up. You can tell the most about an artist from their live performances. It is the only real indicator about how they actually feel about their music. This is why in every artist of the week, I will try to only link those videos.
Below is one of my absolute favorite performances of all time, from any artist, ever. From the pretending to play the piano at the beginning, to the canned laughter at the end, it’s a performance that truly represents what Father John Misty is all about. I could bore you more about how I feel, but why don’t you just watch it and find out for yourself, and let us know how it makes you feel?