Showcasing an uncharacteristic vulnerability, Father John Misty unveils a painful and critical masterpiece that critiques love, heartbreak and himself.
Misty has evolved upon every release. 2012’s Fear Fun escaped the lonesome and sombre shackles of previous efforts for an album exuding convivial and engaging warmth. The great and romantic gesture of I Love You, Honeybear for his wife, Emma, embodies the lust, excitement, and frustration of love. 2017’s concept album Pure Comedy developed into a nihilistic and sprawling opus that examined the post-truth era with a critical disdain for authoritarian pronouncements and modern culture. Tillman managed to perfectly juxtapose the apocalyptic setting curated in his mind with luscious orchestral work that made everyone take note. However, these records are only markers in the expansive and boundless universe Tillman has created for Father John Misty. His fourth studio album, God’s Favorite Customer is the first endeavour in a conscious effort to bring it all crashing down.
Allegedly God’s Favorite Customer was written and developed over a period of emotional turmoil which saw Tillman settling into a New York hotel room for a significant period of time. Emerging from this experience, Tillman sounds reflective. Apologetic and wiser from previous misdemeanours and emotional adventures. The nonchalant scepticism and wry-humour have vanished and receded into a man stripped back to the core.
Lead single ‘Mr. Tillman’ depicts a hilarious conversational struggle between a heavily intoxicated Tillman and an adherent hotel concierge. Still shrouded and encapsulated among the mystique darkness of said hotel, Tillman exhibits levels of paranoia through his lyricism that confirms his divorce from society. So much so that reception staff repeatedly remind him that other guests are not actors partaking on a movie set.
‘The Palace’ is arguably the most reflective and vulnerable piece of music Tillman has released. It illustrates the tumultuous time in his life, while holed up in a hotel away from his wife. He makes a telling confession that he’s in over his head but the throbbing, despondent piano that accompanies it make it truly enticing. ‘Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest Of Them All’ is powered with a 70’s style glam-rock buoyancy. Tillman incorporates the perfect blend of intelligence and insightfulness in its brief 2 minutes. The chorus is sonically splendid. The falsetto soars high and wide as Tillman asks: “Does everybody have to be the greatest story ever told?”
To label God’s Favorite Customer a breakup album would be painfully simplistic. Tillman battles against the amalgamated persona of Father John Misty and Josh Tillman as he searches for reality and purpose. God’s Favorite Customer see’s FJM come crashing back down to earth in a splendid fashion. The willingness to explore the difficult and the dark make for the most intriguing FJM listen to date.