Father John Misty was 2015’s definitive songwriting dreamboat. With his merge of laugh-out-loud funny, yet heart-melting lyrics, and just as adverse musicality, under his new moniker, Josh Tillman had an army of jester-admiring fans behind him. Fast forward two years and not much has changed with the release of his third solo album – ‘Pure Comedy’ – a sauntering journey of allegorical lyrics, and bombastic arrangements that are so Father John Misty it hurts.
A critical and funny commentary, the album ranges from a perspective of humans as “demented monkeys” (Total Entertainment Forever), to renaming Planet Earth as a “bright blue marble orbited by trash” (Things It Would Be Helpful To Know Before A Revolution), and slating the political climate in the title track, asking “Where did they find these goons they’ve elected to rule them?”.
Relaying through what seems to be a never-ending amount of comedic comprehension, ‘Pure Comedy’ never really drops the deprecating front it begins with. However, preaching away on Birdie about abandoning divides between race and gender and a paradisaical wonder of humanity, Father John Misty emerges with glimmers of internal and honest thought. Leaving LA follows, stretching out at 13 minutes and trading in mockery for an intimate memoir of Tillman’s life, and an acerbic look at the current state of society.
Gaining a bit of life, A Bigger Paper Bag features cinematic orchestrations and more dance-worthy sonic contributions – a welcome trail back up to speed from the downbeat crooning on Leaving LA. Looping in again with criticism of humanity, Tillman questions “If this isn’t hell already, then tell me what the hell is?” on When The God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay, a track which may just be the best on ‘Pure Comedy’, featuring stripped back vocals and a plaintive backing courtesy of a deeper sounding piano.
Sounding a bit neo-Brian Eno, Two Wildly Different Perspectives and So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain bring in shimmering soundbites and scooping oddities to stop the continuity of the vocals, piano, and guitar that are oh-so at home on this record. Reaching an end, In Twenty Years Or So Tillman gives a grandiose reminder of his ability to incorporate heart-wrenching musical arrangements, with satirical lyricism and a manner that demands you stop and listen.
Comically poignant, ‘Pure Comedy’ makes amends for Josh Tillman shaving that impressive beard of his, and is a surety of more pleasantries to come from Father John Misty, acting as a branch into a musical style Tillman clearly finds himself at home in.
You can pre-order a copy of the smooth-sounding LP ‘Pure Comedy’ here.
Words by Jasmin Robinson