Album Review: Father John Misty’s ‘I Love You, Honeybear’

Annie Zaleski

Three and a half stars

Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear

It’s appropriate that ex-Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman adopted the name Father John Misty for his solo work; after all, these songs tend to feature a (barely) fictionalized version of Tillman, his conflicted emotional life and debauched times. I Love You, Honeybear—a song cycle examining his real-life love affair with his now-wife, Emma—is slightly less tortured than previous work, though no less gleefully frank and ribald. (Sample lyric: “I wanna take you in the kitchen/Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in.”) Musically, the album trades the granola-folk vibe of 2012’s Fear Fun for a broader, more engaging take on reverb-softened Laurel Canyon pop. Tillman’s cad-as-choirboy vocals soar above twinkling instrumentation, augmented by flourishes such as breezy mariachi horns (“Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”), rigid electro-pop beats (“True Affection”) and schmaltzy strings (the title track). Yet Father John Misty’s innate romantic skepticism is a delightful counterbalance to any mawkishness.

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