It's not easy to describe indie rocker Father John Misty, but compassionate isn't one many fans would use. His tortured new effort seems to try and say otherwise, however. Father John Misty tries to resolve his woes in God's Favorite Customer, his fourth record that sees him trying to come to terms with a very rough period of his life.
It's undeniable that Josh Tillman has an ego to him, and that's still present in God's Favorite Customer, despite its more empathetic writing. On this record, though, that's not such a bad thing. His often-times metaphorical writing comes right back at him in God's Favorite Customer, particularly in 'Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest Of Them All.' Tillman sings primarily in his cryptic figurative ways, but in a reflective sense as he praises the imperfections of love. Unlike the affectionate romance of 2015's I Love You, Honeybear, there is much more pain and worry to be found here. In the songs about his wife, he sings from her perspective: 'The Songwriter,' where he ponders over what would happen if their roles were reversed and she were the one writing the songs about their relationship (which is both sad and almost apologetic, with the chorus asking tenderly, "Goodbye, little songbird, I can leave / Goodbye, my love, is there anything else you need?") and in 'Please Don't Die,' a much more urgent track where his wife is pleading him not to commit suicide.
God's Favorite Customer was written over a two month period where Tillman was living in a hotel room and disillusioned from reality. A large part of the record deals not only with is experiences during his time, but those around him as well. We've already mentioned his wife, but Tillman takes on the unique perspective of the hotel concierge in 'Mr. Tillman' who is doing her best to stay professional despite being fed up with him. There's a very pessimistic idealism in God's Favorite Customer where Tillman seems to always be questioning what's around him, such as in opening track 'Hangout At The Gallows' and the searching title track 'God's Favorite Customer.' Desperation plays a key role, too. The melodies of 'Just Dumb Enough To Try' are almost pleading with hope, while 'Date Night' seems to be trying to look on the bright side when everything seems to be going wrong. Somber tracks like 'The Palace' want to escape the outside world and instead just stay crooked up in his hotel room. At the end of the album, with 'We're Only People (And There's Not Much Anyone Else Can Do About That),' Tillman submits to his hopelessness as he accepts that he will never be able to understand everything around him.
Father John Misty tries to resolve his woes in God's Favorite Customer, documenting his and those around him's minds to try and understand what he was going through. In the end, he doesn't quite get there but finds solace in that, and though the ending mood is unclear, it's perhaps best to look on the bright side: even if we don't understand everything, well, no one else can either.
Favorite Tracks: The Songwriter, Just Dumb Enough To Try, Please Don't Die
Least Favorite Track: Date Night
Rating: 82 / 100
Stream or buy God's Favorite Customer on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: