“What’s the fun in getting everything you want?” asks Josh Tillman on ‘Buddy’s Rendezvous’. If you’re looking for answers, you’re being taken for a fool. Listeners of Father John Misty know all too well that if you’re expecting to arrive at the truth of all the musician’s philosophical questions, you’re going to end up disappointed. In fact, I’m pretty sure he knows this – “I wouldn’t know, but baby you should try,” he replies in jest.
Father John Misty returns, four years since the release of God’s Favourite Customer, with a cinematic score which is abundant in its echoes of old Hollywood and the dark romanticism of film noir. Continuing his collaboration with producer/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Wilson, Chloë and The Next 20th Century is testament to Father John Misty’s art of weaving a tale that is all too familiar, yet seemingly far removed from our present reality – it’s rooted in nostalgia, rumination and longing. The title is drawn from the two songs which respectively bookend the album; each is spectacularly evocative and full of sardonic charm (“I benefit more than I should from her unscrupulous therapist” – ‘Chloë’; “Build your burial grounds upon our burial grounds / But you won’t kill death that way”).
Whilst the most important parts of any story are arguably the beginning and end, sometimes the most pivotal moments are those that happen along the way. Between the seductive ‘Kiss Me (I Loved You)’ and the tortured ‘(Everything But) Her Love’, there’s a plethora of sweet and subtle orchestral flurries which act as watermarks for the scene that was set in the album’s opening moments, but nothing quite hits the mark as distinctly at the namesakes themselves.
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