ALBUM REVIEW: Father John Misty - Chloë and the Next 20th Century

9/10

Father John Misty - Chloë and the Next 20th Century

Father John Misty has one of the richest musical repertoires in the present day, a staple of the scene like Leonard Cohen or Scott Walker in their eras (while leaving a legacy of work for future generations to revel in), effortless charism and cool, equipped to write a perfect song. The analogy I am about to drop on you is rouge but stick with me. I often think of Emma Thompsons' Love Actually' character, claiming Joni Mitchell taught her how to feel, and perhaps for me, Josh Tillmans's work has supported my emotional education in his music to date.

Recorded in the second half of 2020, the timeless Chloe and the Next 20th Century could be a love child of 2015's I Love You Honeybear and 2017's Pure Comedy. The songs host some of the purest lines of love and also some of the saddest. While branching into new grounds with a more classic and jazz approach musically, the album opens with 'Chloë', a unique and theatrical tale of tragedy. An avid storyteller proves Father John Misty to be a man of many 'top' hats, as the album rolls into a new yet just as captivating story in song two, "Goodbye Mr Blue", a return to a more traditional sound for Misty, one would compare it to having the beauty and allure of a Fred Neil song. 

One of the most beautiful moments is 'Kiss Me (I Love You)'; from the opening notes, you see it would flow perfectly with the previous single, "I Love You Honeybear". With graceful strings and piano with vocals, you can physically feel the emotion asking your eyes to part with a tear or two. "Q4" similarly reminds one of FJM's sophomore album musically, the collision of harpsichord, strings, drums, and vocals giving such vivacious energy it moves you - not just emotionally but once again physically. 

'Olvidado (Otro Momento)' offers you soft bossa nova rhythms reminiscent of Walter Wanderly or Luiz Bondá, new and very welcome incorporation to the genres Tillman can play. This album transcends you sophisticatedly through time. Taking older styles and pulling them off flawlessly in this day in age is so rare, special, and valuable. 

The album closer is once of most profound in tone and most relevant to today's world, the sorrow up until this point has been observational for us, but here it's closer to each listener personally. Not holding the same topics of romance as the album as a whole host - in fact, summed up perfectly "I'll take the love songs and the great distance that they came". The juxtaposition of sounds peaks with the long electric guitar interlude, the only time we hear an electric guitar throughout. As a whole, it feels closer to "Pure Comedy". 

Elegant, beautiful, sweet, and sad, but most importantly, the record is timeless in every sense; it will hold a place in people's hearts for decades and decades to come while having the ability to make it hard to pin when it was created. Tillman has nothing to prove. He simply shows up and shows he is a master of his craft and gives you something special to embrace. And for me, and my every developing emotional education, more lessons. Perhaps when I open an album and not a gold necklace on Christmas morning in the distant future, it will be Chloe and the Next 20th Century. (Yes, I went with a Love Actually reference again.)

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