Father John Misty: God's Favorite Customer (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Father John Misty

God’s Favorite Customer

Sub Pop

Jun 01, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Find It At: AMAZON

Back when he was plain old J. Tillman, the man who reinvented himself as Father John Misty churned out records at quite a pace. The production line slowed since he dropped the earnest folk shtick and turned into cynical, satirical jokester Father John Misty in 2012, but output is ratcheting up. The gap between albums has narrowed from three years to two to one. So welcome to the stage God's Favorite Customer.

In case you've not listened for a while to the three other Father John Misty records, he starts with a handy Netflix-style recap. The first three tracks neatly capture previously ploughed furrows. "Hangout at the Gallows" is a more personally apocalyptic spin on 2017's Pure Comedy, "Mr. Tillman" is the ever-so-knowing entertainer in action, and "Just Dumb Enough to Try" goes full-on heart-baring. Basically, Tillman is providing a mini-greatest hits interlude for his Father John Misty persona.

Once settled in, it becomes clear that musically this is craftsmanship over experimentation. Relying on guitar and piano to form the backbone, aided by rotating flourishes of anything from bells to harmonica, God's Favorite Customer offers a mix of haunting folk ballads ("The Palace") and denser, more rocking tracks ("Please Don't Die").

Thematically, Tillman finds himself reflecting on emotional hardship and his inability to manage life. There's honesty on the title track as he tries to trade long abandoned belief in God for help from the almighty. The chorus finds him singing "Speak to me/Won't you speak sweet angel/Don't you remember me?/I was God's favorite customer."

Then on "The Songwriter" he slips into the perspective of his wife Emma, wondering what it is to be on the end of his emotional outpourings. He concludes, "What would it sound like if you were the songwriter/and you did your living around me?/Would you undress me repeatedly in public/To show how very noble and naked you can be?"

For all the laying bare, the glibness of something like "Mr. Tillman," a rambling journey through a hotel breakdown, can appear off-putting. With Tillman, it sometimes feels like a binary choice as he launches into such escapades: embrace his destructive winking persona or recoil?

It's a false dichotomy though. Father John Misty the character shouldn't distract from Father John Misty the songwriter. The obvious truth is they go together. God's Favorite Customer is a 10-track demonstration that when bleakness and fun can be married this well, wanting it any other way is churlish. (www.fatherjohnmisty.com)  

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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June 2nd 2018

“God’s Favorite Customer” I like that kind of name for an album for Father John Misty. I think it’s a nice touch for his music to name an album like that.