Talk about dark…Jesus Christ! Josh Tillman, who goes by the stage name Father John Misty, has some twisted things to say on this album, that’s for sure. I have been meaning to get around to reviewing God’s Favorite Customer for a while now, but for some reason, every time I sit down and listen to it, I get depressed. This whole project is one man’s long suicide note that he composed over a two-month stint at a hotel while dealing with a divorce. So yeah, dark is an understatement, however, we see a ton of artistry throughout the ten track album.
Obviously, you can’t talk much about vocals on any project without discussing the artist at hand’s voice. FJM immediately greets listeners on “Hangout at the Gallows” with this haunting tone. It’s not that the chords he hits are surprisingly low or rough, but instead surprisingly smooth and emotional. You can almost hear the hurt in his voice. He moves from there into “Mr. Tillman” which has more story-based lyrics, describing his time living in the hotel while dealing with some major mental issues. He discusses paranoia and depression while doing every verse through the mouth of the concierge and the chorus from his own standpoint. Just watch the music video to get a sense of how strange and twisted the lyrics of his songs can be. On “Please Don’t Die,” FJM discusses his contemplation of suicide, yet another example of his discussion of some emotional, mental, and drug issues, however, we see his vocal talent the most through this track. He hits every note so smoothly and perfectly, that, while haunting and unnerving, only makes you more interested.
God’s Favorite Customer is listed by Apple Music as an “Alternative” project. I disagree with that to an extent due to the fact that he plays with some heavy influences of pop and folk. Now, of course, any genre can have an alternative side, with its differing sounds to what is mainstream. However, between the twangy guitar riffs, haunting piano loops, and sneaky little additions of a harmonica, you get a much more poppy folk feel throughout. FJM does much of the work on the all the instrumentals throughout. This definitely helps the general vibe of the project stay together, as we often hear the guitar and piano almost coming in synch with one another like on “Just Dumb Enough To Try” and “Date Night.” I can’t talk about the instrumentals without out mentioning the drums on the album’s final track too…just smooth and rhythmic adding to an already vibey outro.
Fair warning…this album will depress you a ton. Have a said that already? Well, it’s definitely no Pharrell’s “Happy.” FJM wrote, recorded, and produced this album during that two-month stint living in the hotel. As you listen to the project, the flow helps you visualize a man completely unraveling from mental issues as he pleads out for help. The smooth transitions help keep the stoic, haunting sound going and we never truly see any song straying from that theme. Jonathan Rado was FJM’s right-hand man for the production throughout, a key addition to the album’s steady flow and solid vocal mixings.
“Hangout at the Gallows,” “God’s Favorite Customer,” and “We’re Only People”
This album feels weird for me because while it is so dark and twisted, I keep adding it back into my rotation and loving it. I can’t pin down what exactly I like about Father John Misty, whether it’s his voice, instrumentals, or storytelling in his lyrics. Something about this album will most likely bring you back to it like it has done to me. God’s Favorite Customer is a:
Super solid 7
While I know most people don’t listen to records start to finish anymore, I highly recommend you try to with God’s Favorite Customer. You will have a better understanding of what FJM is about.