Father John Misty - Pure Comedy - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

by D R Pautsch Rating:5 Release Date:2017-04-07

Father John Misty has been a persona that Josh Tillman has used to explore dark and heavy subjects.  Tillman's marriage and happiness overspilled into his previous effort I Love You Honeybear in positive and negative ways but actually only served to sharpen the acerbic wit.  Pure Comedy follows that up and anyone hoping that Tillman would stick to the music and avoid controversy was quickly let down by the singles that preceded the album. Virtual sex with Taylor Swift, meditation on life and a dose of sarcasm so strong it would make most men choke. Tillman has delivered musically, through the accompanying 20 minute video, a 2000 word essay and any interviews the attention grabbing aspects of his persona more than ever, although don't you dare question him on this as Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie found out when interviewing him.  This means that his deadpan delivery and laid back music are often secondary to the spectacle.

So, stripping back the white noise and listening to just the music you could be forgiven for being underwhelmed. It starts out promisingly enough. Pure Comedy decries life as it starts its torturous journey as 'we emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end is kind enough to fill us in.' It's a beautiful ballad, because that's what Tillman is good at, it has wit, melody and enough to make you fall in love with his world weary view.  Total Entertainment Forever continues this strong start as it looks at how we are evolving into entertainment junkies.  All is fine at this point and actually everything is fine from here on.  Just fine.  Kind of too fine.  Too much beautiful balladry, too much one pace delivery, too much deadpan.  Just too much.  Tillman has never quite known when to quit and on this album, which has a 12 minute opus Leaving LA, which is adored by many, the lyrics are sharp but you are almost wanting a different tone, a different delivery a different pace.  Quite simply it becomes very bland.

Lyrically this is an album light years ahead of almost anything else out there.  It's thoughtful, inventive and ultimately thought provoking.  Musically it is a bit of a snoozefest.  Of course this is not going to be the consensus.  Expect everyone to be falling over themselves to throw praise at this.  Expect nods at awards ceremonies and much more column inches eaten up by Tillman.

However, this just feels like a joke where I haven't been let into what is funny.  Everyone is laughing, why aren't I?

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