Hello and welcome to another entry of our Album Series!
And this time, one of the most acclaimed indie albums of the last decade. If you’re into indie music, you’ve surely heard of Father John Misty (or in his real name, Josh Tillman), and his great 2015 album “I Love You, Honeybear”. The former Fleet Foxes drummer has embarked on a hugely successful solo career, and this album is the pinnacle of it.
“I Love You, Honeybear” is a concept album of sorts, about Tillman’s marriage with his photographer Emma Garr. While a marriage concept album might sound cheesy – especially with that title – “Honeybear” is very far from it. It’s an honest and very personal record of that relationship, as well as Tillman’s own troubles.
The title track “I Love You, Honeybear” is just an amazing piece of music, and one of my favorites – it’s a tale of love in an apocalyptic age (“as the global market crashes”), with a combination of humor and sincerity, realism and over the top images, the perfection and the flaws (“I’ve brought my mother’s depression, you’ve got your father’s scorn and a wayward aunt’s schizophrenia”). “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”, the most famous song on the record, details the night they met and their early adventures in LA.
“The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” goes back in time before the marriage, to one of Tillman’s one night stands. He spends most of the song hilariously insulting his partner (“She says, like, literally, music is the air she breathes/I wonder if she even knows what that word means/Well, it’s literally not that”), but of course the song also reveals a poor side of Tillman himself, tolerating a human being he finds terrible just to have sex with her. By contrast, “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” is set up a few years later, and details several scenes at the bar, when he and his wife both separately reject advances from several people. Set to an absolute gorgeous melody, this is a difficult set of lyrics – Tillman himself said he’s “disgusted by this version of himself” – “I hear a very insecure, petulant imp who is objectifying the woman he claims to love, thinking of her like an object that is his”.
“The Ideal Husband” is the hardest rocking track on the record, and another painful set of lyrics. Inspired by the WikiLeaks story (hence the “Julian” in the song), Tillman imagines if his own “files” have leaked – listing the awful things he’s done, from manipulation, lies and drunk driving. The final verse sees him begging another woman not to leave him – claiming he’s “finally succumbing, tired of running” and offering to have a baby – but knowing it’s not sincere. And last, “Holy Shit” is probably the emotional centerpiece of the album. Written on Tillman’s wedding day, it’s just a special song in every way.
Thanks jphn for testing and hard endings!
To finish it off, we’ve got non-album single “Real Love Baby”. The song, which is Tillman’s most popular song on Spotify, is exactly what “Honeybear” isn’t – a simple, straightforward love song. And a very pretty one at that. It’s almost an hymn, and a great celebration of love after the complexities of “Honeybear”.
That’s it for today, hope you loved the songs!
Previous Entries in the Album Series:
1. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
2. Silver Jews – Tanglewood Numbers
3. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
4. Summer Salt – Happy Camper
5. My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
6. Beach Bunny – Honeymoon & Blame Game
7. Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love
A reminder: The Album Series is an ongoing open project. If you want to contribute, by releasing an album-centric pack (not necessarily a full album) in any genre, feel free to contact me!
And see you next time!