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🌵 Sessions: Father John Misty – Chloë and the Next 20th Century

April 17, 2022

I got hooked on Father John Misty (FJM) with his debut album Fear Fun. I did not discover Fear Fun as much as a wave of critics demanded I listen to it. With one listen I was in. I have loved every album and have seen him in concert several times – I am a FJM fanboy. Independent of FJM, I became a Jonathan Wilson fan via his solo releases. It was only after becoming a Wilson fan that I put two and two together that he was FJM’s producer. I say all this as I typically avoid reading reviews of albums I am reviewing so as not to be influenced. I do read a band/artist’s PR, interviews, etc. as I see that as a part of the album cycle. I loved the new FJM album in first listen, but I didn’t trust my fanboy enthusiasm and the lack of artist controlled album cycle hype. I got a second opinion from some trusted critical sources and they were positive. I am now comfortable gushing.

Josh Tillman’s FJM character has always had a bit of Nick The Lounge Singer (one of Bill Murray’s most popular recurring characters on Saturday Night Live) in his bag of tricks. On this album he doubles down on the lounge gimmick with big band, bossa nova and Muzak arrangements to supplement his long standing singer songwriter Laurel Canyon schtick.

One of FJM brilliant tricks is to juxtaposition gorgeous music with twisted lyrics. Chloë and the Next 20th Century is extra twisted: suicide, fatal car wrecks, and dead cats.

Tillman and Wilson continue their brilliant soundscapes – I love that they expanded the palette with additional genres – it totally works. As usual for Tillman and Wilson, the recording is pristine. A very nice master and pressing for vinyl too.

One of my favorite music critics, Steven Hyden, has an interesting rubric – the five-albums test. The idea is to declare a band or artist great based on the fact that they have released five good to great albums in a row. This is not the only tool to measure greatness, but one tool. In his recent podcast, Indiecast Hyden declared that with Chloë and the Next 20th Century Father John Misty (FJM) had passed the five-albums test. I couldn’t agree more. Looking forward to seeing/hearing this batch of songs live (we have tickets when he comes to Minnesota this fall).


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