Since the conception of Father John Misty’s reprehensible yet grandiose campaign of musical debauchery, fans have gotten to know the character Josh Tillman speaks through in his music. Tillman’s earlier albums developed Father John Misty as a fictional persona, an alter ego of Tillman himself, but God’s Favorite Customer seems to blur the distinction between Tillman and the character in his music.
The album provides a rare glimpse into the chaotic and lonely world of a life lived on the road, and feels as though it’s an actual confession by Tillman rather than an exaggerated affectation for the sake of entertainment like Pure Comedy.
“Hangout at the Gallows” opens up the album and sets the tone, introducing themes of desperation and mortality which repeat throughout the album. “Whose bright idea was it to sharpen the knives? / Just twenty minutes 'fore the boat capsize / If you want an answer, it's anybody's guess / I'm treading water as I bleed to death”.
It’s an odd choice for an opening track. “Hangout at the Gallows” is pretty mellow, which is unusual for an FJM opener. Tillman typically begins his albums with extravagant and outlandish epics like “Fun Times in Babylon”, “I Love You Honeybear” or “Pure Comedy”. The restraint he shows here makes the point that this album isn’t as sarcastic as the others.
Despite the fact that God’s Favorite Customer shines a little different than previous albums, there are still elements of the charming, sardonic lyricism so unique to FJM. “Mr. Tillman” exemplifies the intoxicated cynicism of Father John Misty. The song takes the perspective of a concierge through a series of bizarre interactions with Tillman. Pure gold.
You can compare Tillman’s music to artists who’ve come before him, their songs and compositions, but really, he’s not like any of his predecessors. This album is the product of a maturing musician. Just as with any of Tillman’s albums, God’s Favorite Customer requires time from its listeners, like a good book that needs to be read over two or three times. It’s reflective and intimate and leaves listeners with the same uncertain knot in their chest which could be from melancholy or maybe from laughter.
For Fans Of: Fleet Foxes, Dawes, having an alter ego
Our Take: Father John Misty Deliverers a signature album with an unexpected dash of sincerity.