“What’s your politics, what’s your religion?”
Father John Misty opens God’s Favorite Customer with a few rhetorical questions. He wants to know a thing or two. But in asking about your politics & religion, J. Tillman indicates a thing or two about his own psyche. He is probably more lost in these questions than you are — and that’s the key to his latest album. While he can lampoon the world at will (and he does so here), he’s most interesting when he turns the criticizing eye on himself.
Father John Misty has a knack for the big picture.
But after painting that picture with sweeping brushstrokes, he’ll take aim at it. He’ll get a handful of darts from the bar next door and poke holes into it until all that’s left is himself, and then he’ll poke holes into that, too. That’s why the title of the album includes both God (the big picture) and his favorite customer.
All of this would be too unbearable and depressing to hear if the music wasn’t excellent. Fortunately for us, it is. The compositions are huge and the instrumentation flourishes. Harmonicas, strings and horns abound. Tambourines push the songs forward acting as a vital sign for the album. The hooks are sweet and the golden 50’s guitar tones sweeter. But yet again, the best moments on this LP occur when Tillman sits alone with his piano, effectively turning all the stage lights off except for the one on him.
God’s Favorite Customer is not Tillman’s best record. But that doesn’t matter. It is a set of new thoughts on love, and what happens when it’s no longer pink and hot like on I Love You, Honeybear. This is probably the more important kind of love — the kind that you work for when desire is done doing the work for you. And God’s Favorite Customer helps us do the heavy lifting.