Father John Misty is the newest project from former Fleet Foxes drummer J. (Josh) Tillman, although the album for the most part doesn’t sound particularly Fleet Fox-y, which is probably the sound that Tillman was going for. The album bounces between several different sounds — dreamy, high harmonies; straight up country rock; your stereotypical jangly indie rock — and seems to be struggling for an identity just as much as Tillman is. (On closing song “Everyman Needs a Companion”, Tillman sings: “I never liked the name Joshua, I got tired of J.”) Fear Fun is an album with meandering, tortured beginnings; in press for the album, Tillman talks about sinking into a deep depression, doing lots of drugs, driving aimlessly down the west coast, and holing up in a California house to make some demos. It’s an interesting twist on the standard indie rock narrative of “sensitive guy holes up in cabin to write sensitive songs”, and the album is better for it. The lyrics can be a bit too precious or absurd for me at times, but the overall sound is good even if the words sometimes struggle. The more I’ve listened to this album, the more its grown on me. If you’re a lyrics person like me, Tillman’s voice and the catchy orchestration of the songs will save you from doing a lot of head-scratching while listening.
As an added bonus, the always entertaining Aubrey Plaza stars in the (incredibly weird) video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”.
Father John Misty stops by Schubas tomorrow night at 10 pm. Tickets are already sold out, but hopefully you can find your way in!