Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Album Review: ‘I Love You, Honeybear’

EMMA TILLMAN The newest production from Joshua Tillman’s own creation, his band, Father John Misty, is an album about the process of love.
The newest production from Joshua Tillman’s own creation, his band, Father John Misty, is an album about the process of love.


Joshua Tillman, the man behind the band Father John Misty, has undergone a long journey to reach success.

Tillman was raised in an Evangelical Christian household in Maryland where no outside culture or secular music was allowed. Following his years as the drummer for Fleet Foxes and as a serious, brooding solo act, Tillman went on to create a new persona for himself. Thus, Father John Misty was created in a hallucinogenic-fuelled state while travelling down the West Coast. Under the new moniker, Tillman approaches music with a satirical and ironic scrutiny.

Father John Misty has been quoted saying that “I Love You, Honeybear” is a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman. The album centers around the ideas of love, marriage and the problems associated with romantic entanglements. Although seemingly happy, the album has ironic and empathetic undertones that add to its complexity and greatness. The album is so pure and cynical it hurts.

Each song is layered instrumentally and recorded with immense clarity. The album sounds like a cohesive unit, even though every song has a different production. “Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins)” showcases heavy string arrangements, shakers, horns and harmonies that rise and fall throughout the song. “The Ideal Husband” features a siren intro, heavy crash symbols and distorted guitars. “True Affection” is the only song on the album with synthesized beats. “I Went to the Store One Day” has a stripped-down, acoustic feel that is present in a handful of other songs on the album. Each song on the album sounds somewhat different, which would usually lead to a non-cohesive album. However, Father John Misty makes everything mesh together in a unique and noteworthy way.

On the first listen, “I Love You, Honeybear” seems like a sweet album about love. A closer look at the lyrics reveals that Tillman is a lyrical genius. His lyrics are a double-edged sword. Although they seem whimsical, they are just a tool used to blunt the satirical and ironic quality they hold. The lyrics are funny and brilliant, because Tillman does not mind coming off as a jerk to the listener. Tillman only has one goal in mind: to expose the bitter and deceptive truths about love.

For example, “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” seems like a simple song about a night out at a bar, but it turns into a vicious tirade against a guy trying to hit on Tillman’s wife: “Why the long face, jerkoff? Your chance has been taken/ Good one/ You may think like an animal/ If you try that cat-and-mouse shit, you’ll get bitten.” For another example, “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment” seems like an innocent story about a one-night stand when it is really a list of all the faults he finds in his conquest.

Each lyric, on top of its artistic ingenuity, shows off Tillman’s remarkable voice. His clean-cut tenor sound showcases his range and emotional vulnerability perfectly. Although his subject manner may be cynical and disturbing, the beauty of his voice shines through.

The album reaches its peak on “Holy Shit,” a song about the stupidity of the institution of love. Tillman arrives at the beautiful and twisted lyrical conclusion that “love is just an institution based on human frailty.”

“Bored in The USA” is the only one of the album’s tracks that is not centered on love. Instead, the song is a social commentary about the state of American commercialism and society. The track is stripped down, with an orchestral piano-lead instrumentation that leads the listener to focus on the beauty of the song’s production. However, the song features biting and controversial lyrics: “They gave me a useless education/And a subprime loan, a Craftsman home / Keep my prescriptions filled/And now I can’t get off.” The song gives off Springsteen vibes that recalls the songs of the ’70s. Although the song is so thematically different from the rest of the album, its production and delivery makes it so the track does not seem out of place.

“I Love You, Honeybear” is an album about falling in love, but it’s also about so much more than that. It is an album of lyrical depth and emotion that exposes the intricate and gritty details of falling in love. The subtle way in which Tillman brings up the complexities of falling in love through his biting lyrics and varying instrumentation is what makes this album a huge success.

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