Top 10 Father John Misty Tracks

By Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

In 2017, the time when artists are judged for their music as much as their ability to get people talking, Father John Misty is an absolute gem. The former Fleet Fox (real name Josh Tillman) is one of the biggest personalities in music today and divides opinion across the board due to his trademark sarcasm and his boldness, never afraid to come out with a big quote or 10.

However, while his personality (or public persona) is comparable to marmite; his music is more like a great pizza, as the vast majority agree it’s really fucking good, and those who disagree probably just hate fun. Josh Tillman has released 3 studio records under the Misty moniker – 2012’s druggy Fear Fun, 2015’s larger-than-life I Love You, Honeybear and most recently, 2017’s existential Pure Comedy. With Tillman currently on the biggest headline tour of his life and promising his 4th Misty LP early next year, now seems as good a time as ever to rank his 10 best tracks so far.

  1. Leaving LA

Easily the most ambitious track in the Misty discography – Leaving LA is a self-described “10 verse, chorus-less diatribe” which clocks in at just over 13 minutes and hears Tillman at his most confessional – almost systematically running through his life and laying himself and all his shortcomings bare, while still weaving his notorious irony and wit throughout. The beautiful string score behind the acoustic guitar is what really holds the track together and justifies its mammoth length – providing the perfect bed for the hyper-personal lyrics dating back to the first memory Tillman has of music – choking on a sweet soundtracked by Sweet Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac.

  1. I’m Writing a Novel

The highlight from 2012’s Fear Fun comes from a very different place of self-reflection. I’m Writing a Novel details the true story of Tillman’s moving to Laurel Canyon and experiences with heavy psychedelics before waking up naked under a tree and having the epiphany to rebrand himself as Father John Misty. Stupid? Absolutely, but Novel is almost undoubtedly the most fun track Tillman has ever written. As with much of the debut, the track has a distinctly country feel to it and the almost laugh-out-loud lyrics make it a perfect introduction to the bizarre persona and world of Father John Misty.

  1. Real Love Baby

The reverb-laden Real Love Baby was released as a standalone single between I Love You, Honeybear and Pure Comedy, and has since proved to be the biggest red herring Tillman has ever thrown to fans and critics. Real Love Baby is demo-like and simplistic but is unashamedly a big brash love song. Tillman’s resonant delivery of lyrics like “I’m a flower, you’re my bee / it’s much older than you and me” makes this track arguably cheesier than anything from his Honeybear record, so understandably, people began assuming Father John Misty would become a vehicle for Tillman’s overblown love songs, however, these assumptions were thrown to the wayside when the world-weary Pure Comedy dropped in 2017.

  1. The Ideal Husband

Even taking the straight-up weirdness of Novel into account, The Ideal Husband is undoubtedly the most bat-shit crazy track in the FJM discography. If anyone was ever to doubt this, all they should do is watch a live version and see how much Tillman flails himself around in the second half of this track. It’s undoubtedly his heaviest, built on a groove which just never seems to let up from the moment it kicks in, which serves as a perfect marriage to some of Tillman’s most entertaining lyrics – listing various less than desirable traits (“telling people jokes to shut them up”) before the track reaches a musical and lyrical climax with Tillman howling “let’s put a baby in the oven / wouldn’t I make the ideal husband?”

  1. Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow

Sandwiched right in the middle of I Love You, Honeybear, Thirsty Crow exemplifies almost the entire “point” of the record. It’s not just a record of cheesy love songs, and throughout the record’s 12 tracks, Tillman also covers the less desirable aspects of love and the traps we all fall into. On top of Thirsty Crow’s Western-influenced instrumental (just listen to that lead guitar) Tillman sings about living on tour and leaving his wife Emma at home, descending into objectification and jealousy in the first half of the track before it explodes into life and Tillman begins threatening people approaching his wife “you may think like an animal / but if you try that cat-and-mouse shit, you’ll get bitten/keep moving”. Ouch.

  1. So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain

The penultimate track on Pure Comedy, heavily based on Thomas Mann’s novel “The Magic Mountain”, may just be the most heartbreaking track Tillman has ever committed to tape. The instrumental is disarmingly simple, consisting of just acoustic guitar and piano whilst Tillman seems to simultaneously fight with and regretfully accept the fact he is aging. The lyrics then fade and leave a beautiful 4-minute outro, punctuated by horns and what sounds like a choir, as if to let the listener grapple with what may be the most poignant lyrics of Tillman’s career so far.

  1. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)

While Honeybear as a record concerns itself with far more than just the traditional depiction of love, on Chateau Lobby, Tillman abandons that and allows himself to unashamedly write a love song. However, this is a Father John Misty track, so does anything but fall into the pool of every other singer-songwriter love song. Chateau Lobby feels euphoric, with Tillman’s acoustic backed up by a mariachi band as he gushes over his wife Emma, flipping the idea of virginity in the process, calling himself and his wife virgins as they have never been in love as profoundly as they are with each other. Extra wholesome points for ending on the heartwarming “what are you doing with your whole life? How about forever?”

  1. I Love You, Honeybear

The title track of Father John Misty’s second record sets big expectations for itself with the sheer brashness of the title. Thankfully, it exceeds all comfortably. Honeybear has perhaps the most grandiose score in the Misty discography, and Tillman is not at all overwhelmed, shrieking honeybear, honeybear, honeybear, oooh” from the track’s inception. Lyrically, this track wanders almost everywhere. It’s obviously a big overblown love song (Tillman swears the use of “honeybear” is ironic) but the drama of the score is matched by some incredibly apocalyptic lyrics which are never afraid to be sexual – and both worlds converge brilliantly in the lines “you’re bent over the altar / and the neighbours are complaining / that the misanthropes next door are probably conceiving a Damien”.

  1. Pure Comedy

As proven on Honeybear, when Tillman writes a title track for a Misty record, it’s normally very good, to say the least. Almost undoubtedly the greatest track on the record of the same name, Pure Comedy is cynical in the extreme, where Tillman enters social commentary mode and criticises humanity over solemn piano chords – starting from the fact that babies are born with half-formed brains before critiquing everything from democracy to religion. The chorus describes these failings are “pure comedy”, and by the time the track reaches its peak and the piano is joined by what sounds like every horn under the sun, Tillman shrieks “it’s like something that a madman would conceive!”.

  1. Holy Shit

According to Tillman, Holy Shit was written on his wedding day and is named after the first words he said after getting married. The track is another one of the simpler Father John Misty tracks, where the first half is carried by just an acoustic guitar and Tillman’s vocal before everything changes at the 2-minute mark. Violins play into a key change, where the second half of the track feels weightless and soars into the air, supported by another choir. In almost every line of this rack, Tillman places 2 opposing ideas beside each other to create a juxtaposition. However, it isn’t until the final couplet when all these ideas come together in an epiphany: “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”.

Top 20 Tracks of 2017 (So Far)

While the end of year lists tend to give albums the most significance, these records are nothing but the sum of their parts which, in this case, is the songs. It doesn’t matter what the purpose of these tracks are, some are deep layered entities while others are just straight up lovable bangers, all that needs to be considered is that these songs have made 2017 one of the most exciting and interesting years of music that many of us can recall. Without further ado, let us go down the list of all the singles that we’ve had on loop and may or may not have been signing in the shower every morning for the past few months.

20. Royal Blood – Lights Out

While the album this track appeared on didn’t go down a treat with us, it’s undeniable that Lights Out hit a chord with one or two members of the blinkclyro team. It has all the traits that made Royal Blood one of the surprise big acts when they dropped their debut back in 2014 – that’s really all that needs to be said.

19. I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time by Joji 

No one was really expecting the mind behind the disgusting and ludicrous Filthy Frank to hit out with one of the most beautiful tracks of 2017 but Joji has went and surprised not only us but a lot of the music community.

REVIEW HERE

18. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

An artist exploring two themes (heartbreak and family qualms) that have been done to death in an intriguing way (using the metaphor of mining work) isn’t something we expected to see pop up on this list but when the band in question is Manchester Orchestra, we really can’t complain.

17. Amber Mark – Lose My Cool

With Amber herself commenting on this track representing the stage of anger in the grieving process, Lose My Cool delivers this catchy yet simple production that lets the lyrics be the star while giving your ears something lovely to relax onto as well. A lot can be happening at once but considering the reaction of  bottling feelings up in this sort of situation, it couldn’t be more perfect.

16. The Kite String Tangle – Selfish

With a stylistic and extravagant use of synths and beats on display, The Kite String Tangle’s return seems to stand out even more with the recent surge of humility and stripping back. Transparent lyrics give the track an extra edge, helping it to differentiate itself from the countless others artists in the IDM genre. 

15. Sampha – (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

Without even considering the tearful story behind the track, this was the last song Sampha played to his mother and was fitting performed at her funeral, Sampha uses nothing but the piano, his voice and a handful of near silent beats to deliver one of the greatest ballads not only of this year, but of this decade.

REVIEW HERE

14. Pronto Mama – Bottom Feeder 

Any of the 13 tracks that appear on Scottish rockers Pronto Mama‘s debut LP could appear on this list though it just so happens that it’s the intro track that we’ve happened to choose. Visceral lyrics, varied instrumentals and one of the best vocal performances you’ll hear all year, it’s the perfect way to introduce yourself to the Glasgow act.

REVIEW HERE

13. Sorority Noise – Disappeared 

Euphorically upbeat, yet meshing perfectly with the lyrical themes of mourning and death, Sorority Noise exercise their impeccable ability to approach a variety of situations in a way that only they can. Much like many of the tracks on YNA_AYT, Disappeared is gone as fast as it appears yet leaves an imprint in the few minutes its around.

REVIEW HERE

12. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever 

Starting off with one of the best yet weirdest lyrics ever conceived (Bedding Taylor Swift/
Every night inside the Oculus Rift/
After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes), Father John Misty makes his mark right out the gate on Total Entertainment Forever, one that he definitely cemented on his recent LP Pure Comedy. Full of social commentary about technology and more, the track proves to be a witty, funny but equally smart song: something that, in this age of turmoil and tyranny, is definitely needed.

REVIEW HERE

11. The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness 

The final refrain of System, “I can’t explain it any other, any other way”, sees Berninger stretched to the limits of his vocal capacity, similar to his end-of-performance outbursts on stage. If any of this is a reliable indicator, Sleep Well Beast, the band’s upcoming LP, threatens to be their best recording yet.

REVIEW HERE

10. Radiohead – I Promise

Both one of the oldest and most recent tracks from Radiohead, the song is one of three previously unreleased from OK Computer, I Promise easily nests itself into the band’s discography with Yorke’s haunting vocal performance and stripped back instrumentals. It’s a track full to the brim with devotion, leading to one of the band’s most romantic songs to date – whether or not that was Yorke and co’s intention.

9. Alt J – In Cold Blood

Channelling a lot of what has made the band’s past releases so great, In Cold Blood is brash, sleek and beautiful all at the same time with an unshakable familiarity to Alt J‘s sophomore LP. It’s just one taste of the unique cohesion of their various pop styles that Relaxer does so well.

REVIEW HERE

8. Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo

Venturing into mostly new territory vocally, Rowsell is known for the occasional scream on tracks such as Giant Peach, but on Yuk Foo, she is all out aggressive; the track relies on her to pull off the sentiment of frustration and she nails it. Wolf Alice deliver one of the most frustration fuelled songs of the year – the band may finally be shaking off the indie rock label for a more punk heavy one and we couldn’t be happier.

REVIEW HERE

7. Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

The best grime track on Stormzy‘s debut LP is lead single Big For Your Boots, which opens with a sample guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. This precedes the chorus which crashes in with Stormzy reminding any challengers that he has size 12 feet and “your face ain’t big for my boot” with a lightning-quick flow in the verses guaranteed to send festival crowds into raptures.

REVIEW HERE

6. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – The Lord Of Lightning vs Balrog

You would think with the band’s ambitious feat to release four to five albums in 2017 alone that King Gizzard would run out of ideas or fuel by now. Lead single for Murder of the Universe titled Lord of Lighting is enough to put those worries to rest, delivering the most insane song of the band’s career so far, referencing past releases not only by name but style as well.

5. Remo Drive – Yer Killin’ Me

Instrumentation from the intro of this Remo Drive track is reminiscent of bands like Gnarwolves or a heavier The Front Bottoms, the middle of the song sounds like it was influenced by Foals, the end sounding NOTHING like the rest of the song and vocal lines influences from bands like FIDLAR. However, the song still breaks down to be an emo anthem in the end: there aren’t many bands who could throw all of that into an album, let alone one song, but make it sound so effortless and downright beautiful.

REVIEW HERE

4. Frank Ocean – Chanel

Even though Chanel is suspected to have been written post-Blonde it still plays with the same themes, a lack of conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song writing (with the exception of returning lyrics and motifs) and lush instrumentation. The most interesting part about this song is that even thought it was written within a year of the release of Blonde, it feels like it wouldn’t fit on the last album. The song from the start is a beautiful mix of piano, bass and jazz-influenced percussion, (drums and percussion being absent for the majority of Blonde, showing a progression in instrumentation).

REVIEW HERE

3. Francis & The Lights feat. Chance The Rapper – May I Have This Dance?

Remember during the intro when we mentioned that some tracks are just straight up tunes that don’t need analysis to shine? Well, here’s the track that inspired that: sounding like something straight out of a Disney Movie outro, May I Have This Dance is one of the purest songs to drop all year with one deliciously wholesome verse by none other than Chance The Rapper.

2. Lorde – Green Light

One thing that should always subtly remain with you when listening to Lorde‘s music is her age, and what she’s achieved by it. Around the age of 13/14, she was laying the groundwork for her debut album, Pure Heroine, and by the age of 16, she smashed into the face of the earth, becoming an instant success. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Green Light is an utter tune.

The chorus has a dancy, nineties feel as she’ll “get [her] things, but [she] can’t let go”, before segueing back into the sombre, minimalist piano beat as Lorde sometimes “wakes up in a different bed, too”, with the lyrical theme subtly, maturely and perfectly covering the protagonist’s heartbreak & the route to mending that patching up that poorly ticker.

Closing out with a beautiful, yet simplistic synth-style solo with the energetic choral backing vocals weaving in between it, Green Light offers a frank and honest account of a break-up, with the partying that comes as part and parcel of setting yourself right with a maturity, depth and energy that only someone like Lorde can offer you.

REVIEW HERE

1.Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Comparing yourself to a religious symbol is usually bound to result in you becoming an infamous figure. If you need an example then just take a look at Kanye‘s Rolling Stone Cover where he not so subtly recreated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Unsurprisingly this made Mr West public enemy number one in the eyes of many Christians, something which has continued when he repeatedly announces himself as a god.

So as Kendrick Lamar donned pope robes for the music video accompanying new single Humble, his second track in the space of a week following The Heart Part 4, you would have expected him to maybe take a second to reconsider his attire. Throughout this track, though, Kendrick isn’t concerned with the thoughts of others as we get an abundance of braggadocious bars that the Compton rapper hasn’t really channeled since his second studio album Good Kid, m.A.A.d city. 

Accompanied by the punchiest 808 bass line you’ll hear this year along with a catchy piano riff, this is the first witnessing of Kendrick‘s departure of the jazz-fuelled sound that can be found all over To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled.unmastered. Not only this but the lyrics seem to channel a lot more of the narrative that carried the aforementioned Good Kid, m.A.A.d city with Kendrick spouting lines about his youth surrounded by gang affiliations and cheap grub before he begins to brag about money and sex with one of the wittiest albeit cheesiest lines of the year so far (parmesan where my accountant lives).

While some may feel a bit light changed by DAMN., though not us, Humble cements Kendrick as not only the greatest rapper of the 21st century but a serious contestant for the GOAT title.


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