“Chloe and the Next 20th Century” was probably one of the biggest surprises to me this year.
I pre-ordered the album on record back in January, expecting another album similar to the previous work of Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty. When I think of him, I think of the time I saw him in concert a few years ago. He has this way of moving on stage like he’s a plant swaying in the wind. His songs are categorized by bittersweet themes, ranging from scorning his lost love to buying expensive cat food for his Turkish Angora –in the same song– and gentle acoustic background.
So when the first song on the album, Chloe, comes in with a full orchestra, I almost shit myself.
Do you remember back at the beginning of 2020 when everyone was excited about a repeat of the “Roaring 20s,” with jazz music and fancy parties and flapper dresses, and then that didn’t happen? This album is a perfect encapsulation of that feeling. The reflective guitar is bookended by dreamy horns and strings.
When I listen to this album, I feel like I’m both 80 years old and 20 years old. A few of the songs would make great waltzes despite the subject matter. It’s similar to Lana Del Rey’s aesthetic a few years ago before she came out as an anti-vax / anti-masker and lost her fanbase– a little grungy, reminiscent of a “golden age,” romantic and tragic. That might be why she and Father John Misty have covered each other’s songs a few times. (I haven’t listened to any of her covers. I’m still disappointed in her.)
If you’re a fan of the retro aesthetic and you want to imagine you’re Marilyn Monroe lounging on a couch smoking one of those silly long cigarettes, this is the album for you.
“The wisdom of the ages /
From Gita to Abraham /
Was written by smitten, lonely sages /
Too wise to ever take a chance”
(Song: Only a fool)
“The wheel is turning /
From night into day /
Everything's in transition /
Everything must change /
But none of us here /
Will ever see the promised land /
None of us here will be there for /
Childhood's end /
I see ya /
You student debtors /
In the watchtower overhead /
Searchin' for headlights in the driveway /
Crying ‘Dad, look what they did’.”
(Song: The 20th century)
Milo Openshaw (he/him) is the opions editor for The Front winter '22. He's a junior majoring in creative writing with a teaching endorsement. This year he will read 60 books and write at least one.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find him on Instagram @miloohno if you want to see him. Or don't. (I wouldn't recommend it.)