We have a long line of Father John Misty lovers on our staff.
by Annie Muscat
Everyone’s favorite pretentious cynic is back with yet another existential, dread-inducing masterpiece. On June 1, singer-songwriter Josh Tillman released his fourth album, God’s Favorite Customer, as his sardonic alias Father John Misty. Already, the album has garnered acclaim with Pitchfork labeling it Best New Music, and Rolling Stone calling it a “Lennon-esque Pleasure”.
The album art itself captures the discontentment Misty puts forward in his pensive lyrics and deliberate melodies. Bathed in both warm and cool light, Misty pinches the bridge of his nose, gazing off into the distance with a look of hopeless melancholy. Where this album departs from Father John Misty’s previous records, such as the formidable I Love You, Honeybear or the satirical Pure Comedy, is Misty’s vulnerability. He abandons his biting criticism of humanity in favor of introspection.
In a downtempo piano ballad called “The Palace”, Misty confesses “I’m in over my head”. He encapsulates the sentiments that many of us share in a postmodern society—those pertaining to uncertain identity and disillusionment. Certain tracks even come off as pleas, perhaps even apologies when in “Please Don’t Die”, Misty promises to “…take it easy with the morbid stuff”. It’s possible that songs like “Just Dumb Enough to Try” and “The Songwriter” are meditations on the singer’s marriage, providing a window for the listener into Misty’s personal insecurities.
Contrary to how it may seem, not all of the songs off the album are depressing. “Date Night” is particularly upbeat while “Mr. Tillman” relays a humorous narrative from the perspective of a hotel concierge and is accompanied by an equally absurd music video. By using his real name as done before in “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment” from his past album Fear Fun, Misty blurs the line between authentic self and alter ego. It’s as if he himself has become a character, one that feels limited at times but is not to be taken too seriously. That’s the thing, Misty delivers profound feelings, but shrugs them off. After all, wouldn’t such depth render him the soul-searching hipster he so often mocks?
God’s Favorite Customer is undoubtedly Father John Misty’s most intimate album which is why he continues to be one of the most consistently relevant and evolving artists. He is critical when we need to confront hypocrisy and grieves alongside us when we need comfort.
Favorite track: Mr. Tillman