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It came as a shock when Josh Tillman relinquished his position as drummer for Fleet Foxes, a group of bearded men who possess the superpower to lull a crowd to sleep in seamless harmony. Having cut ties with the melodious fivesome in 2011, Tillman trekked down the coast from Seattle “with enough mushrooms to choke a horse”—his words, not ours—settled in Laurel Canyon and was reborn as solo artist Father John Misty.
Along the way, Tillman shed his cop-stopping Jesus hairdo and picked up a sense of humor, all of which gives Fear Fun, his eighth album and the first under his new moniker, a surprisingly convivial tone that pokes fun at sex, death and Tillman himself. In the country-tinged “I’m Writing a Novel,” the vocalist tells personal stories of bizarre Hollywood mischief and hedonism gone awry: “I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screaming, ‘Please come help me, that Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me!’ ”
Issued last May, Fear Fun still harbors qualities of the albums produced during Tillman’s days in Fleet Foxes flannel. “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me,” featuring Tillman’s cascading vocals and slow-paced supernatural arrangements, conjures nostalgia for the immaculate harmonizing of his former group. Yet freedom from his four-year stint and a change in scenery appear to have lifted the artist out of a post-Foxes depression, even as madcap cynic Father John Misty has established himself as a solo act to be reckoned with.—Maya Friedman
Father John Misty plays Coachella Sunday April 14 and Sunday April 21.
Follow Maya Friedman on Twitter: @mcfried7
This article originally appeared in Time Out New York on January 10, 2013.
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