It’s funny how one guest spot in one music video can peak someone’s interest about a project, artist, or band. Case in point, Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza. If it wasn’t for her guest spot in Father John Misty’s music video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings.” If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have even known about this debut project from former Fleet Foxes drummer J.Tillman. And in a turnabout way, if it wasn’t for how catchy “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings” is, I would’ve just past by this album without second guessing myself.
I’m glad I did though, because this first album from Father John Misty, entitled Fear Fun, is a rather enjoyable, and rather accessible folk stomp album.
“Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings” is an upbeat modern folk song about, what else, but funeral hopping. “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” is a short yet beautiful organ accompanying ballad about the longing of a lost love. “Only Son of the Ladiesman” is a gorgeous tale of a man who left behind nothing but broken memories and broken families.
The biggest compliment that I can give J.Tillman is his vocal delivery on each song. It’s spectacular. It has a down home rootsy feel to it, but can swing and be completely modern in a change of a song. His storytelling is great throughout, making each listen connect you even more to what each song is about. It can connect with both a younger generation (on songs like “Well, You Can Do It Without Me”) and the older ones (songs like “This Is Sally Hatchet”) without really changing at all. Not to mention bringing up easy comparisons to Fleet Foxes in the process.
The biggest complaint I have about Fear Fun, and it’s a big one, is it’s repetitiveness. A lot of the tracks here stay at the same tempo, making the album stay on one level throughout. This will probably deter listeners, as it got pretty boring for me during my first listen. The stories and lyrics are all there, and they do a great job of keeping me interested, but if they weren’t, this album probably wouldn’t hold any water. The fastest track on Fear Fun is the second to last “Tee Pees 1-12,” a good down-south abduction song. Other than that, this album is the same old boom-clap pattern throughout the twelve song album.
I didn’t know what exactly I was getting into besides the one music video I saw, but it’s safe to say that it was worth a full listen. Tillman’s vocal performance is what is the biggest stand out factor on Fear Fun; his delivery can be both dark and invading or light and joyous – and either way works to create a good listening experience. It may be a bit repeatitive, but it is still a good time.
Final Grade: B+
Go Download: “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings”