By Ryan McKeever, Contributor
“Look out Hollywood, here I come,” J. Tillman sings on “Fun Times In Babylon,” the opening track to “Fear Fun,” Tillman’s debut under the moniker Father John Misty.
And Hollywood would be right to take this advice.
Tillman’s eighth solo album (but first under this moniker) is filled with folk rock gems that remind the listener of artists such as Waylon Jennings among other ‘70s musicians that defined the folk rock movement.
But what makes “Fear Fun” unique? It’s big.
“Only Son of the Ladiesman” stands out among the other tracks due to its simple but beautiful pairing of acoustic guitar with deep piano over pounding drums to create a soaring anthem that shouts summer with every measure. With this track, Father John Misty has created something truly powerful, and you know this when every line sung gives you chills.
For the most part, the album is comprised of folk rock tracks that make it apparent Tillman was at one point the drummer of Fleet Foxes. The harmonies throughout the entire album also point to Fleet Foxes, but that doesn’t mean he’s imitating.
“Every Man Needs a Champion,” the final track on “Fear Fun,” is filled with cabaret piano that sounds like an old western movie just before a bar fight breaks out, and you get that feeling throughout the whole record.
There is something about “Fear Fun” that sounds like it was made in the wrong time. Its instrumentation and harmonies scream Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Although there’s something very old-timey about Father John Misty’s debut, he brings something new to the table through percussion. The driving percussion throughout “Fear Fun” is far from plain.
Most of the tracks bring this percussion forward at some point, giving each song an upbeat sense of rhythm, probably because Tillman knows his way around a drum set through past endeavors.
“Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” is probably where this percussion presents itself most, with a very shaky rock ‘n’ roll beat that could draw comparisons to newer indie rock groups, such as Department of Eagles.
“Fear Fun” is a record that’s going to keep your feet moving and head bobbing. Although straightforward, there’s something very lovable and mystical about it.
In an age where modern folk groups are getting more airplay, Father John Misty shouldn’t have any trouble fitting in. “Fear Fun” is the soundtrack for getting into the driver’s seat and going until you run out of gas, and after a couple of listens, you might just need to fill up the tank and go.