Joshua Tillman has left the milk-and-honey kindness of the Fleet Foxes to craft a more rebellious guise for himself as Father John Misty, a kind of lone cowboy in black. The sound will be familiar to Fleet Foxes fans, with echoing vocals and strong lyricism, but there’s a slightly harder, rockier edge. The absolute stand-out track is ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings’, about self-destructive girls and trying to lay the dead to rest; ‘someone’s gotta help me dig!’, Tillman sings, to such a thumping beat that it’s seriously addictive, on instant replay.
Much of the rest is great too, with the odd exception; ‘I’m Writing A Novel’, ‘Tee Pees 1–12’ and ‘Well, You Can Do It Without Me’ feel like tame honky-tonk in comparison.
If the Fleet Foxes seemingly bypass the trappings of modern life to step back into a pastoral idyll, Tillman’s vision is all about Hollywood, but he too is a bit nostalgic, this being the world of classic Hollywood, painted ladies, silent film, and horseback jaunts. ‘O I Long To Feel Your Arms Around’ is soulful, and ‘Only Son of the Ladiesman’ is self-mythology at its best (‘I’m a leaning brand of a one-night stand, I’m a ladiesman’).
‘This is Sally Hatchet’ reminds me of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby (‘Sally Hatchet lives in a hole in the ground, the longer it keeps raining the more she has to struggle to maintain a wonderful time’), and is one of the most intriguing and beautifully-pitched songs on the album. ‘Now I’m Learning To Love The War’ is a meditation on the guilt of consumption (‘Try not to think so much about the truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record,’ Tillman begins), and ‘Everyman Needs A Companion’ is peaceful and sedate, a hammock-swinging end to the ride.
Words: Becky Varley–Winter