Fleet Foxes are a cornerstone of the indie folk scene, and Josh Tillman was integral to their success as drummer and backing vocalist prior to leaving the band in 2012. On I Love You, Honeybear – his second album under the moniker Father John Misty – Tillman’s music, in contrast to the more stripped-back feel of his previous solo efforts, is reminiscent of his former band’s expansive chamber pop sound, with lush string arrangements all over this record.
Tillman differs from the Fleet Foxes sound, however, when it comes to the lyrics. Whilst Robin Pecknold’s lyrics on their records are very much of secondary importance, usually coated in harmonies, Tillman’s words take centre stage in Honeybear. He swings abruptly from caustic wit to heartfelt romantic sincerity, complaining about how his girlfriend misuses the word ‘literally’ in the wonderful ‘The Night J. Tillman Came to Our Apartment’, but remaining totally believable when he tells her, “I can hardly believe I’ve found you and I’m terrified by that”, on the next track.
There’s something of Morrissey in this juxtaposition of sardonic lyrics with exquisite instrumental accompaniment and, though there are a few duds, it comes off extremely well in many of these tracks. This is certainly a more personal take on Fleet Foxes’ style of chamber folk, and some may find it even more appealing.