There always seems to be a sense of added pressure on a title track that is released as a single, although I can’t be exactly sure why that is. Fortunately, for Father John Misty ‘The Next 20th Century’ only shares a chunk of the title and not the whole shebang, so he gets a bit of anomalous wiggle room when it comes to encapsulating the album.
That wiggle room saves the song from being underwhelming too. Of all the four tracks that he has released from the album so far, ‘The Next 20th Century’ sounds the least like a single. Its subdued verse structure gives way to experimental sections and abstract lyrics incorporating Val Kilmer raise eyebrows with interest in the amorphous way that is usually resigned to B-sides.
This all makes the track somewhat of an oddity in a plethora of ways. And it is that same puzzling experience that always makes it an interesting listen. The instrumentation is sparse until the moment it suddenly isn’t and somehow the mention of Batman beguiles you towards the lyrics quicker than the hushed mention of a Nazi wedding band.
The upshot of this is a song that is hard to follow and even harder to place. It’s certainly a song you’ll listen to again on a record of promise, but as a single, it’s not really one that screams about what situation it would happily match. In that sense, those who aren’t already fans of Father John Misty may well simply dismiss it as nonsense while lovers of his lilting literary jams try to delve through the murk.
The album titled Chloë and The Next 20th Century is set for release via Sub Pop and Bella Union on April 8th 2022. Alongside the usual formats, it will also receive a limited deluxe release featuring singles from the record covered by Lana Del Rey and Jack Cruz respectively.
If the tracks released so far are anything to go by then Father John Misty looks set to return to the balladeer stylings of I Love You, Honeybear complete with the orchestral stylings and show tune arrangements. For the album, Father John Misty has once again teamed up with Jonathan Wilson who has produced all of his solo LPs to date.