Josh Tillman’s fourth Father John Misty LP, God’s Favorite Customer, seems to take on a darker narrative than his previous albums. The lyrical content of this album is much more bitter sounding and Tillman has experimented with much darker chord changes to match. Through it all, he still manages to throw in some small bits of comedy in tracks such as “The Palace” and “Date Night” to remind listeners that the man beneath all of the heartbreak is still there. God’s Favorite Customer is a very honest depiction of Tillman’s emotions as he blurs the lines between himself and his Father John Misty ego, giving this album a very personal and raw feel.
The album opens up with the track “Hangout at the Gallows” which features choppy instrumentals behind smooth vocals to create a contrast between the two parts. There is a build up after the first chorus which drops back off for the second verse, this time adding a jazzy piano part before going back to the familiar sound heard in the chorus. This track sets up listeners for the dark content on the album. This song, like a few others on the album, also surprises the listener with a very abrupt ending.
The album as a whole has a very dreamlike quality to it. Songs like “Mr. Tillman” and “Please Don’t Die” play off of this theme. “Mr. Tillman” in particular sticks out for this reason. The song itself is repetitive and almost hypnotic. The melody is easy enough to recall after the first listen through because there is no differentiation between the chorus and the verses. Towards the end, Tillman whistles the main melody in place of lyrics, and ends with guitar fading out; however, if he did not deviate with this, it feels as though the song could have continued on indefinitely with this catchy, repetitive melody.
Another notable quality to the album is the clean vocal runs that make their way onto certain tracks such as “Just Dumb Enough to Try” and “Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All”, and the abrupt endings to many of the tracks. These endings feel like they come out of nowhere and shake up that dreamlike quality of the album. In addition to the lyrical content, these abrupt endings indicate a sense of bitterness as well and feel like a nod to the abruptness of life: something can be here one minute and gone the next.
One of my favorite tracks from the album and the most memorable emotionally was “The Palace”. The song was written as a reminder of the two-month stay Tillman spent living in a hotel. It is heartbreaking. The melodies sound very major, while backing chords are minor. The track is not directly dissonant but leans in the direction. The lyrics are generally sad but every so often there are little bits of humor and hope. The line “Maybe I’ll get a pet/ Learn how to take care of somebody else/ Maybe I’ll name him Jeff.” sticks out in particular as a moment of humor before diving back into gloomier lyrics again. Tillman comes back to feeling hope again as he sings, “Last night I texted your iPhone and said I think I’m ready to come home” but then immediately turns back to “I’m in over my head”, providing us with that little splash of hope and bringing us right back down to a hopeless reality again.
God’s Favorite Customer is an album that should be listened to without any type of distractions the first time through. There are a lot of really cool manipulations of instruments scattered throughout the album that require some focus and attention or they can be missed. Sit down, listen, and soak in the emotions because this album tells a clear story from start to finish that you won’t want to miss. Josh Tillman is straightforward and bares it all on this FJM album. You can check out the singles “Mr. Tillman”, “Just Dumb Enough To Try”, and “Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All” before the album drops tomorrow.
Nicole DiBenedetto is a photographer based out of New Jersey. She likes making new friends and meeting new people so catch her out in the pit and say hi!