Father John Misty Review: A Fox Less His Fleet, But Not Less the Music

Father John Misty
Fear Fun

album cover art for father john misty joshua tillman solo album fear fun ex fleet fox

Long before Joshua Tillman moved to Hollywood and took on the persona of Father John Misty, he was drumming for a little band known as Saxon Shore. Saxon Shore is a small post-rock instrumental 4-piece band that had the ability to put on some pretty insane shows. I remember seeing them my first year of college in Ball State University’s student center cafeteria. They left quite the impression, but I hardly heard from them again after that show. After he left Saxon Shore, he moved to Seattle, and began pursuing his solo career. Luckily for Joshua, Damien Jurado got his paws on one of Josh’s tapes and asked Josh to join him on a small tour, in which he was mostly not cared for. It was after that tour he joined up with his most promising musical venture to date, Fleet Foxes. Two masterful albums, a stunning EP, a few tours, and many praises later, he left the Fleet to re-pursue his solo career yet again, but this time with a new name, a new attitude, and a totally new sound. Even though Fleet Foxes seem to still be only growing by the minute in popularity, Joshua felt Father John busting from every pore of his body and couldn’t wait any longer to release him to the world. So he packed his things, moved down to Hollywood, and as a result, we are now blessed with Fear Fun.

The first thing that had originally drew my attention to Father John, was his incredible music video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”. Not only did the song totally kick ass with its grungy drum/guitar rhythm, but the distant droning vocals and somewhat peculiar lyrics (“We should let this dead guys sleep … someone’s got to help me dig”), but the video was also dark, slightly morbid, and also contained my current favorite actress/love interest Aubrey Plaza.

^I’ve never been so turned on by a bloody face

I immediately knew I liked Father John’s style and taste and felt I’d love the direction he was taking this album in. A few weeks later, I still hadn’t dove totally into the album, but my friend Charlie had pulled up a few live videos, doting his live performance due to his punk-ass attitude and overly dramatic, but hysterical stage performance such as this:

^Very well sung, music is great, and as if the lyrics aren’t already funny, the subtly in Joshua’s movements/dancing throughout this performance kill me. Not to mention his bassist literally looks like a combination of characters from The Muppet Band.

the muppet band for the muppet movie
^Combine characters to = FJM bassist

I then dove right back into this album and simply can’t get over how underrated it is. Sure the lyrics can be a bit goofy, but they are also very clever, very well constructed, always on-point, and sometimes hilarious. Example of such: “Now everywhere I go, in West Hollywood, is filled with people pretending they don’t see the actress and the actress wishing that they could”. The opening track to the album speaks of his “Funtimes in Babylon”, as he warns Hollywood (possibly the listener) that he is on his way. More or less, I view this as a warning that things are about to get weird. Sure enough, the opening lines to the next song are “Oh, pour me another drink and punch me in face. You can call me Nancy.” The song is actually very soft and pleasant, and sports beautiful vocals to boot.

As the album continues, you constantly hear little bits and pieces of influences that you just can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe some Dylan here, some Jim Croce there, Beatles singing about a new Sally, or maybe even hints of a classic country artist or two. You can also hear bits and pieces of Fleet Foxes lingering around, but then you realize with lyrics like “I’m a steady hand, I’m a Dodgers fan. I’m a leading brand of a one night stand. Ohhh, I’m a ladiesman”, that this is some sort of off-breed of Fox, not the usual Fleet we are accustomed too.

cartoon picture of fleet foxes
^Fleet Fox
picture of ex fleet fox father john misty joshua tillman
^Father Fox
aubrey plaze in father john misty music video for hollywood forever cemetery sings
^Total Fox

The album does have a lull or two. Specifically the track “Mist’s Nightmares 1 & 2” and unfortunately, even after it’s very intriguing start, the last track of the album “Everyman Needs a Companion” really doesn’t serve as a strong ending to the album. Instead, despite a few insightful lines, it leaves me really wanting one more song that is at least close to as entertaining as the previous 11 tracks. The bummer is that lyrically it has some serious highlights, but it continues to drag until it ultimately closes with the worst/cheapest possible way to end an album … the fade out.

Some were sad to hear Joshua “getting tired of Joshua” (as he explains in the most interesting line of the last track) and ditching the Fleet. But ya know, I feel like the Foxes will continue on and be just fine, and in the meantime, we now have a very talented, very beautiful sounding slice of weirdness to enjoy. I love our new found Father, and hope that Josh doesn’t tire of this project quite so quickly.


Can’t Miss: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” (<Video Especially), “I’m Writing a Novel”, “Only Son of the Ladiesman”, “Tee Pees 1-12”

Can’t Hit: “Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 12”, “Everyman Needs a Companion”


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Author: Todd

I dig musics ...

3 thoughts on “Father John Misty Review: A Fox Less His Fleet, But Not Less the Music”

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