“A collection of profound and epic album reviews and musical articles by former astronaut and brain surgeon, Alasdair Kennedy. Reaching levels of poetry that rival Keats and Blake, the following reviews affirm Alasdair to be a prodigy, a genius and a god whose opinion is always objectively right. He is also without a doubt the most modest man in the universe.” - Alasdair Kennedy
Review of 'I Love You, Honeybear' by Father John Misty
‘Love is just an institution based on human frailty.’
Josh Tillman AKA Father John Misty is a cynical bastard. At times on the album
I just want to shake him and tell him to turn that frown upside down. The ex-Fleet
Foxes member seems to inhabit a world that is devoid of hope. Fortunately, he’s
such a great and talented entertainer that he can sell this seemingly repulsive
world to us.
Musically, I Love You,
Honeybear is a dimly-lit-saloon-bar mix of folk, country and soul. There’s
also an electropop song shoehorned into the mix - which doesn't really fit but it spices things up. The vocals meanwhile sound a
bit like Elton John.
It’s near impossible to lump the whole thing under one genre.
In an interview, Josh Tillman jokingly stated: ‘The things that emerge in true intimacy can be fairly brutal. that whyit’s a metal album’.
Alright then, let’s call this a metal album. Indeed, whilst there
certainly aren’t any mosh-friendly tunes on here, the lyrics are ‘brutal’ in
every sense of the word. Against the pretty instrumentation it’s almost inappropriate.
The whole record starts with a love song of sorts in which
Josh describes making love and getting high with his wife whilst the ‘stock market crashes’ and ‘death fills the streets’. On the
surface, it’s a cheesy love song with a hokey hook ‘I love you, honeybear’, but poking through the verses are some gross bits of imagery: ‘mascara,
blood, ash and cum’.
As the album progresses this darker and more manic side becomes
more salient. Josh goes from choking his wife to wanting to put a baby in the
oven. Whilst the former could just be some kinky Fifty-Shades-Of-Grey stuff and
the latter could just be a metaphor for getting his wife pregnant, the tone of
Josh’s voice suggests a more violent and literal meaning.
'Let's put a baby in the oven!'
By the end of the record, the comedy almost slips away
entirely in exchange for bitterness and grief. Josh gets political, discussing this
current generation as one of ‘loveless
sex’ and ‘consumer slaves’ and
then finishes the album on a wholly sincere downer of a track, ‘I Went To The
Store One Day’, contemplating how he doesn’t want to die in a hospital.
It’s like listening to a guy slowly downward spiralling into
a mental breakdown. I’m reminded of that Steve Buscemi movie Trees Lounge or a Stewart Lee stand-up. Things
get so bleak and pessimistic that you no longer know whether to laugh or cry any
Although clearly intended to create these uneasy feelings,
it’s fairly frustrating for the listener. It’s practically the opposite of Sun
Kil Moon’s Benji, a similarly tragic
folk album released last year, but one that seems to grow more rose-tinted as
it runs, starting dismal but ending bright and hopeful.
Personally, I prefer these happy endings. Of course, that
isn’t to say I Love You, Honeybear
isn’t an enjoyable album. It’s just as emotionally raw and compelling as Benji, only with a big fat sad
I’d like to think that some of it is just Josh playing a
character. Can anyone really be this misanthropic and bitter? It’s a miracle he
gets out of bed in the morning. Father John Misty, if you’re reading this, I
want to give you a hug.