Early Christmas, I guess, because I’m being awfully lenient with both of these albums, which really are roaming the dud territory. This is especially true of Father John Misty, quite possibly the most overrated album of the year with only the dismal Viet Cong a close contender. I could write an essay detailing why I Love You, Honeybear is bad, but it’s not worth the effort.
FATHER JOHN MISTY – I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop): I understand the impulse to somehow simultaneously embrace ex-Fleet Foxes Joshua Tillman’s curious blend of sincerity and facetiousness—the way he sings about that particular dread-inducing boredom and passivity of American life is unsettling, but it also makes me angry, and not in a way that makes me want to write to my congressman; it makes me want to slap Tillman across the face. His entire persona is what anyone could identify as the worst aspects of that oft-overused epithet “hipster.” Is he really as upset or concerned about the multiple crises the country faces as he wants us to believe? Or is that sly, detached way in which he presents himself the kind of cynicism for which none of us should have any patience—the kind used merely to elevate the subject above the matter with a sneering veneer? And how dare he waste “Bored in the USA” on a slow burner. Seriously. B PLUS (*)
MY MORNING JACKET – The Waterfall (ATO): I thought Circuital was a step in the right direction after the embarrassing Evil Urges—less reliant on Jim James’s iffy falsetto and as close as they’d ever come to an acoustic album without losing their rock sensibilities. But now, four years later, MMJ often enough find an interesting riff—like a hint of Afrobeat, say (“Spring (Among the Living)”)—and fail time and again to do anything productive with it. Instead they use every interesting instrumental bit they stumble upon as either an interlude, segue, or breakdown, never once considering the rollicking riff should be front and center—not to mention shorter, too, as many cuts here nudge their way towards the five-minute mark. Something else I learned from the superior Circuital: ignore James’s words, for upon closer inspection it seems he does the same. B PLUS (**)