I Love You, Honey­bear (Sub Pop)

Pasatiempo - - PASA TEMPOS - — Robert Ker

In 2012, Josh Till­man (aka Fa­ther John Misty) brought a des­per­ately needed dose of hu­mor to indie rock with Fear Fun ,a ram­shackle al­bum about mov­ing to Los An­ge­les and fall­ing into var­i­ous ad­ven­tures, hap­pily tweak­ing mod­ern no­tions of man­hood. On I Love You, Honey­bear , his fol­low-up, he oc­ca­sion­ally over­plays this wry cyn­i­cism, lob­bing zingers at his wife’s mis­use of the word “lit­er­ally” and nam­ing songs with bad word­play like “Bored in the USA.” Dig­ging a bit deeper, this ode to mar­riage in a crum­bling so­ci­ety is bit­ing, res­o­nant, funny, and catchy. Till­man moves fur­ther away from the Fleet Foxes-like sound of Fear Fun (he served as that band’s drum­mer) to in­cor­po­rate more of the sparkling coun­try in­flu­ences of ’70s-era Lau­rel Canyon folk-pop, while also slid­ing his voice through the com­put­er­ized blips and bloops of “True Af­fec­tion” and the ghostly backup vo­cals of “Strange En­counter.” Along the way, he de­tails the ups and downs of monog­a­mous ro­mance and shrugs at the ab­sur­dity and fu­til­ity of mod­ern Amer­i­can life, tap­ping into post-mil­len­nium para­noia and grap­pling with deep de­pres­sion by the al­bum’s end. The only time the con­cept doesn’t quite work is when he goes the whole Jack Ni­chol­son (that is, as Jack Tor­rance in The Shin­ing ) route with “The Ideal Hus­band.” Honey­bear is not quite the star­tling master­piece that Fear Fun was, but Till­man has a sto­ry­teller’s gift for un­pre­dictable lyri­cal phras­ing, an ear for melody, and an evoca­tive, boom­ing voice to bring it all home.

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