Album Review: Father John Misty – Fear Fun

This is a quirky album.  It should go on the short list for freak folk fans and college rock stations.  This guy, this mysteriously named Father John Misty, has mastered the dirty guitar and the common-chorded riff.  This is just one of those no-repeat albums.  It’s got a dash of singer-songwriter, a taste of late 60s guitar, and a healthy dose of odd lyrics.

The lyrical themes of this album are reminiscent of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.  We mean that in the most insulting way possible.  No, seriously, “I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screamin’ please come help me that Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me and I’m writing a novel… because it’s never been done before.”  The cover art looks like it was psychedelically inspired.  The album is no different.  It’s okay, we’re adults.  We say no to drugs and still like the music.

“O I long to feel your arms around me” begins with an incredible Hammond organ and great vocal harmonies.  It will put listeners more in the mind of Fleet Foxes than the other singer-songwriter style songs.  The lead singer’s voice is stronger than at first blush.  He’s got the chops to sing several different styles, even this hymn-like salvo.  It’s a beautiful song that almost seems out of place compared to “I’m writing a novel,” the psychedelic song before it on the album.

The track “Only Song of the Ladiesman” is an interesting treat.  It has a narrative style and a wonderful feeling of loftiness about it.  The story, though a bit quirky, presents a seemingly ordinary guy as a ladies’ man.  The imagery of sexuality and infidelity around the man at his death is bizarre, yet strangely comforting.  “I swear that man was womankind’s first husband…”

“Well, You Can Do It Without Me” immediately has a Creedence feel to it.  It’s probably the best track on the album.  It’s a quintessential rock track and it’s so good.  It shows Josh Tillman, the man behind the moniker, at his absolute best.  “Without me… who would let you play God and make believe that all the blasphemy is coming only from me.”  The track, along with some others on the album, is laced with religious references that undoubtedly grows out of Tillman’s choice to name himself a Father.

This is an incredibly unique album.  Tillman has abilities that almost make the album feel a mockery of his own potential.  Like, if he wanted to, he could just crush the charts with a mainstream album.  Instead, he’s chosen this project.  The message in “Now I’m Learning to Love the War,” comments about the oil industry and the making of an album.  It’s one of the most brilliant, politically-conscious tracks we’ve run across.  It’s a real shame that it won’t get the airplay that it deserves.

Enjoy this album, buy it, and share it with your friends that like this particularly intriguing brand of rock and roll.

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