Father John Misty is teasing something eerie

Father John Mystery

If a cryptic new tease gives us any indication, Father John Misty’s return could be imminent.

The indie-rock stalwart, real name Josh Tillman, last made waves in August of 2020 with the standalone tracks ‘To S.’ and ‘To R.’ (both of which came as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club). He’s kept relatively quiet since, bar his first few live shows since 2019 – a solo appearance at this year’s Sound Summit festival, then two back-to-back headliners on the Californian coast.

Now, it looks as though Tillman’s radio silence is ending – his Instagram was wiped clean overnight, with all prior posts replaced by an eerie, monochromatic video of a cityscape accompanied by a muffled ragtime ditty. The tune is buried under varied atmospherics – soft rain, jangling cutlery, the subtle clicks of a car’s blinker and chirping crickets among them. The car in question sits in the centre of the visual, overlooking the distant city.

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Take a look at it below:

Tillman’s most recent full-length effort as Father John Misty was the 2018 album ‘God’s Favourite Customer’. In a four-star review, NME’s Robin Murray said: “It’s a record riddled with questions, while refusing to offer answers. In remaining tight-lipped, this taciturn new aspect to Father John Misty might be his most genuinely sincere, and his most profound.”

2020 came with a surprise live album, ‘Off-Key In Hamburg’, which NME also gave a four-star review. In her write-up, Leonie Cooper called it “a sumptuous reminder of those big budget blow-out shows that will happen again one day, but not any time soon”. All proceeds from that release were donated to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund.

Later in the year, Tillman released a four-track EP titled ‘Anthem + 3’. Comprised of two Leonard Cohen covers, plus takes on Link Wray’s ‘Fallin’ Rain’ and Yusuf’s ‘Trouble’, the EP served as another avenue for Tillman’s philanthropy; upon its initial release on his BandCamp page, the singer-songwriter funnelled its profits into charities CARE Action and Ground Game LA.

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Between 2018 and 2020, Tillman debuted at least four unreleased songs during live sets. One, debuted in December of ’18, saw him repeating the phrase “all God’s Country” in the chorus. Another featured sax and synths, with Tillman singing over them: “I guess time just makes fools of us all.” Soon thereafter came his unused song from A Star Is Born and the soaring ‘Tell It Like It Is’.

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