By Suze Olbrich
Josh, formerly J Tillman, formerly Josh Tillman of the Fleet Foxes, released his new record, Fear and Fun, on Bella Union earlier this year. A heady, rich album, pure yet dirty, sonically harking back in time, but neither archaic, nor fetishizing the past. It’s also an exceptionally well-executed musical rendering of the freedom found during Josh’s pursuit of creative renewal.
Fear and Fun makes for pretty amusing listening too. It’s a mischievous record that pokes fun at artistic aspirations and the seeking of truth, at us and the artist himself. The stories within are of lost souls that don’t want saving and debauched antics gone awry. The fear part is less obvious, but also pervades the album. The underlying blackness beneath our daily toils towards living correctly as deigned so by some embedded personal or societal sense of right and wrong. Fear of being alone. Fear of where we as a society are headed.
Joshua Tillman is not a name most people are familiar with. A musician hailing from Baltimore, Maryland with a newly formed base in Hollywood, Tillman got his start into the music industry roughly 10 years ago with his ominous and beautiful debut album, “I Will Return” on Keep Recordings. After four records and a three year stint as drummer for the Philly outfit Saxon Shore, Tillman, a then resident of Seattle, got a gig as the drummer for Sub Pop’s new age folk group Fleet Foxes. His time with the band lasted from 2008 until the end of their tour in support of their second full length album at the end of 2011. Upon leaving Fleet Foxes, Tillman went on to pursue his own music with a different lens than heard on previous efforts. Opting for Los Angeles as opposed to Seattle, adopting the moniker Father John Misty, Tillman commenced to reinvent himself.
The new album, Fear Fun, released May 01, 2012 under Sub Pop is a brilliant and introspective look into the indulgence and new direction Mr. Tillman is taking his music in. The sounds on this album are wonderfully crafted taking a more edgy stance on his already definitive Americana feel, adding grooves from the music of the 60s and a poetic cynicism not usually found in such upbeat songs. In fact Tillman’s previous albums were never ones to shed much brightness or pop sensibilities as he attempts on Fear Fun. He provides catchy grooves and rhythms with poetic substance.