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Why Father John Misty’s New Album Promotes Unrealistic Expectations For Love For Beard-Chasing Non-Basic Bitches

March 28, 2015

 I Love You, Honeybear, the latest recording from Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman turned solo artist J. Tillman, turned Father John Misty, is fantastic. It is beautiful and funny and musically delicious. In its own twisted way, it is a record about love, but it is also about consumerism, malaise, drugs, sex and his marriage to filmmaker and photographer Emma Tillman.

Here in 2015, the idea of love, especially within the subset of tragically hip milennials who resent that very moniker, is deformed. It is so mainstream that it has possibly transcended and come out the other side and become “cool” again. In the dark, raunchy, and deeply funny FX show You’re The Worst, the lead character delivers a speech about marriage in which she says that, “maybe buying in is the punk rock choice.” If you give I Love You, Honeybear a few listens, it sure seems that way.

Album Art

Album Art

Tillman’s lyrics ring equal parts romantic and cynical. In Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins) he sings, “People are boring/But you’re something else completely/Damn, let’s take our chances.” In the same song, “So bourgeoisie to keep waiting/Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian.” Many young-ish people today look at life through these beige colored glasses; endless choices, Tinder and other dating apps providing myriad options, but nothing satisfies. In many ways, society has homogenized. People are boring. Almost everyone loved Breaking Bad, has a tattoo, has an opinion about Kim Kardashian, uses mason jars for things other than canning preserves, and let’s face it, here in America, kale is the new black. What’s the ideal way out of this vortex of normality? In the near perfect Holy Shit, we get an answer: “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity/But what I fail to see is what that’s gotta do with you and me.” Maybe, the answer is as simple as finding the “right person”, which Tillman has seemingly done.

This is where the problem of unrealistic expectations arises. Some people tend to romanticize life, and when listening to an album like this it is easy to do so. Upon the first few listens, it would seem that a love like Josh and Emma’s is ideal. In fact, jealousy may even arise; possibly massive, soul-splitting, deep sadness and jealousy. The sex is great, he idolizes her, all other women pale in comparison, he respects her art, they don’t try to change one another, etc; it is ideal, or at least it would seem to be. After twelve (or four-hundred) listens, it becomes painfully clear that there is nothing perfect about this relationship.

Tillman refers to his Father John Misty persona (if that is indeed any different than his own) as “aimless” twice in the album’s thirteen songs. The artist has reinvented himself twice since embarking on a solo career and clearly suffers from indecision when it comes to his artistic direction. In this album, he also references an inability to keep an erection due to prescription drugs, and the fourth line of the whole album is a list of what substances coat the Tillman’s marriage bed (It’s “mascara, blood, ash and cum.”) While at first a deeply artistic and bohemian sentiment, most self-respecting adults, even those who lean left, “forget” to wash their hair for several days, and spend the better part of a given week wrapped up in creative projects, really, really just want to wake up in a clean bed. Additionally, there’s nothing romantic about a lover who is so inundated with mood-boosting pills that he can’t get it up.

If Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear has you aching to find your perfect hipster lover, just remember, love is never perfect, but it’s those very imperfections that allow it to be yours. This is an album about imperfection and the mess that is life just as much as it is an album about love, because the two go hand-in-hand and failure to recognize that will result in dishonest relationships and more naïve pretension.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 28, 2015 1:24 PM

    So True, So True- about imperfection. Happiness/Love includes better & worse….

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