On the surface, “True Affection” is the biggest musical departure in Father John Misty’s quickly expanding discography. Dig deeper, and it becomes clear “Affection” is quintessential FJM, as he provides the perfect marriage between subject matter and composition.
“When can we talk, with the face / Instead of using all these strange devices,” asks J Tillman in the song’s first verse. Behind the electronica-indebted production, “these strange devices” takes on a new meaning. Fans of Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear singles “Bored in the U.S.A.” and “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” have come to expect a certain rustic, live sound to Tillman’s work as Father John Misty. With “True Affection,” he challenges the concept of what FJM can be, with results as stellar as Sufjan Stevens’ electronica turn on The Age of Adz. The rest of Honeybear plays out as fans of Tillman’s work would expect, with his compelling, humorous lyrics and painstakingly beautiful melodies leading the charge. On “Affection,” though, Tillman uses devices outside of his control to express the very basic human desire of connection. It may be wrapped in a different box, but “True Affection” declares Father John Misty as a gift that keeps on giving.
I Love You, Honeybear is out now via Sub Pop.