Every single Friday, we find and collate the best albums released this week so you don’t have to. Look no further than right here for your weekend listening material.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Polarising for so many aspects of his character and performance, not least the deeply sardonic ventures into Hollywood hedonism, sex and love on Fear Fun (2012) and I Love You, Honeybear (2015), I can’t think of many records that will be met with such divided opinion as Father John Misty’s third studio album Pure Comedy. Whereas previous releases under the moniker Father John Misty were mostly led by personal experience, Pure Comedy is more solely a commentary of mankind looking inwards from the outside.
Opener and title track ‘Pure Comedy’, in equal parts hilarious and utterly depressing, is a grim summary of a brainwashed humanity indoctrinated by religion and consumerism. Grandiosely contradictory and tragically absurd, “Pure Comedy” is the only apt description. With lyrics like “bedding Taylor Swift every night in the Oculus Rift”, ‘Total Entertainment Forever’ displays the consequences and downfalls of our constant need for entertainment. ‘Two Wildly Different Perspectives’ remarks on the increasingly divided liberal left and conservative right in American and global politics. A certain level of social commentary is to be expected on any Father John Misty album, but this time it feels inspired by genuine concern and fear rather than purely satirical intent.
Although undoubtedly beautiful, Pure Comedy is perhaps a little more aesthetically challenging than previous albums. Lyrically led and supported with orchestral instrumentation even more ornate, there’s certainly less finger-clicking to be had here in comparison with Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear – but honestly, this couldn’t really be less of an issue. A songwriting masterclass at times, Pure Comedy sees Tillman hit new heights. The 13-minute-long “ten-verse, chorusless diatribe” ‘Leaving LA’ took a whole 3 years to write – this seems perfectly reasonable considering the incredible depth and intimacy of the lyrics. It’s a beautiful epic and stands majestically as the album’s centrepiece. Equally strong ‘When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay’, ‘Things It Would Be Helpful to Know Before the Revolution’ and ‘So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain’ counterbalance contemplative lyrics with heavenly melodies and lavish choruses. It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from one of our most accomplished songwriters of our time.
On Pure Comedy, it feels as if Father John has removed at least a part of the veil of irony that has previously shrouded his identity and opinion. To Tillman, humanity has gone beyond satire. More so than ever before, the jokes and the sarcasm act as a genuinely fearful critique of the world around him. But whilst this theme is prevalent from start to finish, there is a glimmer of hope that comes in the form of love and distraction. After considering the ironic pointlessness of human existence in an infinite universe on ‘In Twenty Years or So’, the song and album comes to a reassuringly romantic end with Tillman finding peace: “But I look at you, as our second drinks arrive, the piano player’s playing ‘This Must Be the Place’ and it’s a miracle to be alive”.