Tillman removes himself from the convoluted parables and cryptic philosophies he expresses in “Fear Fun” and instead focuses on love, as highlighted by his bold choice of album title.
He shrouds his overtly romantic lyrics in melodramatic drumming crescendos and string arrangements.
However, subtlety is more prevalent in his finest tracks. This is apparent in “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment”, which incorporates simplistic Velvet Underground “Sunday Morning”-inspired instrumentals, which accompany deeply vindictive, bitter lyrics. Ultimately, Tillman’s use of the third person narrative combined with his choice of track title indicates his dark humor and how he uses the persona of Father John Misty to laugh at himself.
Tillman’s cynicism is evident in the track “Bored in the USA”, in which he sings: “by this afternoon, I’ll live in debt / By tomorrow, be replaced by children.” In this track, his lyrics are carried by a basic piano sequence, giving them the emphasis that they deserve.
However, at points throughout his album his ironic, self-awareness collapses into self-indulgence, producing a series of tracks that make for very difficult listening. For instance, “I Love you, Honeybear” features the lyrics: “unless we’re naked, getting high on a mattress / While the global market crashes” – this line speaks for itself.
His melodrama is even more potent in his track “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me” which starts and ends with him wailing over a gospel choir. Having said that, I Love You, Honeybear is an album that takes risks, avoiding an artistic rut and delivering on many occasions. In all honesty, it comes down to the question, how much cheese are you prepared to stomach?