“I Love You, Honeybear” by Father John Misty

February 10. 2015 | By Wayne Jessup

FJMhoneybear

Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear
[Sub-Pop]

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we get a Misty-eyed view of romance on I Love You, Honeybear. Turning the lyrical scalpel on himself, Josh Tillman delivers an epic journey, conjuring up a Bizarro world take on Sinatra’s concept records. Once again working with unindicted co-conspirator Jonathan Wilson, the arrangements are lush, and painstakingly worked out. The devil’s in the details, from the fake applause in “Bored In The USA” to the thrilling burst of mariachi horns in “Chateau Lobby #4”.

Thematically anchored by its bookend tracks and centerpiece “When You’re Smiling And Astride Me,” the album bounces down a crazy cobbled path, touching on electronic beats to assay modern relationship disassociation (“True Affection”), then turning the knife (“The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment”). Tillman backs up a vintage 60’s pop arrangement with pure lyrical bile, and comes up with his very own “Positively 4th Street”. “Strange Encounter” might be the finest pure song he’s ever written, the symphonic coda haunting long afterword.

Side two’s stunning trio of “The Ideal Husband”, “Bored In The USA,” and “Holy Shit” prove a high point, but every cut has its twist. It’s the epic title track where he lays out his vision of the relationship that saved him, bleached of all sentimentality. “Mascara, blood, ash, and cum/on the rorschach sheets where we made love” sets the tone for Josh Tillman’s masterpiece.

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