Every now and again you encounter an act whose entire aesthetic appeals to you. From his gorgeous gatefold CD artwork, to his live presence, Father John Misty’s combination of classic singer songwriter stance and soulful rootsy vibe strikes a chord with those of us who would really like them to make albums like they used to.
Of course, in a previous life Joshua Tillman was a member of Fleet Foxes, so there’s certainly an unescapable element of shared audio DNA between him and his former band, however there’s also the no small matter of his string of solo albums that Tillman released under his own name prior to him being a Fleet Fox. Make no mistake, with his gorgeous syrupy vocals and top draw material, Father John Misty was no overnight success. Songs like “I’m Writing a Novel” and “This is Sally Hatchet” are the sound of experience and are fully rounded mature musical statements.
The whole of Fear Fun sounds immense. It’s a huge sounding record that doesn’t lose its focus on the detail as well, which is no easy trick to pull off. Drawing on influences far and wide, it’s an album informed by Soul, American Folk, 60s and 70s rock, pop and every point in between, all of which results in a sizeable canvas of sound which seems to herald the future and the past simultaneously.
An album where every song seems to have its own distinct narrative, Fear Fun certainly isn’t disposable and lightweight stuff. It’s an album that has a reassuring weight and overall feeling of quality to it that only the very best contemporary artists can achieve, and in “Well, You Can Do it Without Me”, Father John Misty has penned a modern classic destined to be added to the great American songbook in years to come. Another great tune is “Now I’m Learning to Love the War”, where Father John Misty weighs up the carbon footprint of artistic statement and how the results don’t decompose over time. It’s clever, it’s well considered and it’s beautifully executed.
Fear Fun is an album that rewards regular repeat listens as it appears to grow in stature each time. With each play it reveals a previously unappreciated detail or lyrical turn. It’s a living, breathing entity in its own right and will only continue to delight as the years tick by with it in your life.