Back in 2012, Josh Tillman released Fear Fun, his first album under the Father John Misty moniker. He had previously played drums in Fleet Foxes and recorded folk albums as J. Tillman, but Father John Misty was something entirely different from the start. FJM is a constantly-evolving character exercise. Fear Fun introduced a self-aware, often-comedic, post-drug trip Father John Misty. His analytical wit guided 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear. Last year, he meditated on modern culture with Pure Comedy. Today he takes FJM’s trajectory in a surprisingly personal direction on his new album God’s Favorite Customer.
In an interview with Uncut, Tillman said the album was “written in a six-week period where I was kind of on the straits. I was living in a hotel for two months…The words were just pouring out of me. It’s really rooted in something that happened last year that was … well, my life blew up. I think the music essentially serves the purpose of making the painful and the isolating less painful and less isolating. But in short, it’s a heartache album.”
He introduces us to a new character: himself. The album’s second track, “Mr. Tillman,” begins, “Mr. Tillman, good to see you again / There’s a few outstanding charges just before we check you in.” He outlines his neuroses from the perspective of a hotel attendant, seemingly a direct reference to his time spent in a hotel, and responds to them as himself. He counters, “I’m living on a cloud above an island in my mind / Oh baby, don’t be alarmed this is just my vibe.”
A loose but legible storyline unfolds from there. On God’s Favorite Customer, Tillman puts social commentary aside and turns inward to reveal the vulnerable human behind the Father John Misty persona. Stream the full album below.
God’s Favorite Customer is out now on Sub Pop/Bella Union. Read our Premature Evaluation here.