Nihilism: A Love Story
Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, isn’t shy enough to leave his nihilism at the door. He will let you know how shit he thinks technology is for our relationship culture or how deeply he hates the same things his wife does. Love, to him, can be a vehicle for money and a front for selfish temptation.
At the heart, or void, of “I Love You, Honeybear” is a man desperately coming to terms with the ins and outs of love, and how he is drawn towards what he hates. Tillman hates her use of technology for communication, her over exaggeration of importance, and just how beautiful she is.
He knows he is an asshole. In fact, his self-deprecation in relation to his pretention is what makes this album miles above similar indie counterparts. Not only does he criticize the world through his narcissistic lens, he is able to self evaluate his place in all the mess. There is an uncertainty in his voice, a tone of one too many shots of cheap whiskey. “I Love You, Honeybear” is brilliant and poetic, marking a high-point for the former Fleet Foxes drummer.
The song ‘Nothing Ever Good Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow’ sees Tillman crooning over sounds that would feel comfortable in the dive bar of a small town in Georgia. It’s slow and sappy but also quite intricate in its use of whirling strings behind southern blues. Tillman wails over being advanced on by numerous women at the bar, but then thinks to himself how his wife is going about the same experience: “is she strong enough to realize what we have?”
Through each of its 11 tracks, “I Love You, Honeybear” is a fresh new perspective on love, and a chronicle of a man who comes to terms with himself in the wake of finding the one.
A Theatrical Demonstration for Faith in Love
California natives, Foxygen, call back to the early sounds of Billy Joel and “Big Bands” of the 50s for their fourth studio album that orchestrates a riverboat ride into the tunnel of faith in love.
Foxygen’s newest record is an exercise in joyful optimism that feels much larger than the sum of its parts. Each track on the relatively short record paints landscapes through the duo’s knack for theatrics. The result is lavish, sweet, and entirely necessary for any individual that has a penchant for viewing love through a cynical lens.
Jonathan Rado and Sam France unite themselves with a 40 piece orchestra arranged by Matthew E. White, a jazz and big band musician. “Hang” never ceases to keep moving any direction it can, which becomes a testament to Foxygen’s signature progressive rock sound and White’s avante-garde expertise. Rado and France’s vocals are often sparse to leave space for the progressive instrumentation to speak volumes louder then their own vocal imagery. The band lends a hand to its listeners and sincerely asks to groove to the eclectic orchestration without ever wanting to stop and over analyze the fleeting feeling of enchantment.
The progression in the track ‘America’ begins at the crescendo of an 80s pop ballad, tours through the swing of silver-age jazz, travels into an era of progressive rock, then ends the journey with the spiraling strings that kicked off the track. As the track comes to a close, the sounds feel fitting for a boat ride through the chocolate river guided by the late Gene Wilder.
“Remember when we used to speak between the stars/And I see you with flamingos in the yard,” croons France on the track ‘Trauma’, led by commanding horns and the soft echo of violins. The track acts as the serenade to the lover mentioned in the whole of the record, offering his entire world to her despite feeling like damaged goods. “But how can I love you if I don’t know who you are, yeah?”
The track ‘Rise Up’ marks the end of the album, with an empowering and lasting call to arms. “You’ve been searching all your life for something till you realized that what you seek was with you all the time,” sings France with emboldening swagger. France is confident the world will arise in the early morning and realize the potential each and every person has. “And everybody wonders where the red fern grows.”
The album was released on streaming, digital, and physical on Jan. 20, 2017.