By Father John Misty
Most people will have found Josh Tillman via his involvement as the drummer and backup vocalist for the Fleet Foxes, whom he departed earlier this year. He had produced previous solo albums under his own name but this latest album is produced under the pseudonym Father John Misty. These earlier albums were a tad too serious & mournful to be enjoyable as they were overweighed with a tone of taking solemnity too far.
This change of name has led to a less precise but much more enjoyable sounds within the 12 songs that make up Fear Fun. Where once we'd have heard minor chords and hushed vocals, there is heavy layering of instrumentation and vocal harmonies with an almost ostentatious flair.
First song "Fun Times in Babylon, sets the tone for the rest of the album with a strong 1970s FM radio vibe, it reminds me slightly of Dennis Wilson's solo album "Pacific Blue" in the way harmonies rise and fall.
The falsetto harmonies of "Nancy" are reminiscent of Elton John's work in the early seventies but the instrumentation used actually puts me in mind of John Grant's "Queen of Denmark". This is a good thing as that remains one of my favourite albums of that year.
It's possible at times to imagine that Tillman is attempting to channel the spirit of Roy Orbison by pairing introspective romanticism with up-tempo melodies in tracks like "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings".
There is a raw unlaquered feel to Fear Fun with imperfections not driven out by the use of technology, this all adds to the charm of the work and there is a real sense of fearlessness in the way Tillman follows the sound of the tracks rather than sticking to the rules too closely. It's this lack of constraint that seems the most abiding view of this album, there's no fear of Fun.