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Bella Union/Sub Pop (label)
07 April 2017 (released)
Written in a third person plural perspective, as if a god like figure making a social commentary, ‘Pure Comedy’ kicks off the album. The ironic nature of the track, written in a preachy yet inspirational way, forces you to explore the themes of politics, religion and technology. Concluding with the ambiguous note “I hate to say it / But each other’s all we’ve got”, leaves you begging for more as if Tillman holds the answers to all of the unanswered questions of the world.
Contrasting entirely is ‘Total Entertainment Forever’, featuring lyrics “Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift / After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes,” which Misty explains in an interview with Exclaim! as a critique of the way we consume entertainment today. Although it mean seem light hearted, the metaphorical lyricism comments on this technology generation within a catchier melody to past material. However this doesn’t last long, as ‘Things That Would Be Helpful To Know Before the Revolution’ brings the tone down in a piano driven piece, with stunning orchestral moments hidden within.
Ironically speaking to a Godlike figure, Father John Misty follows the story of a self absorbed man in ‘Ballad of the Dying Man’. The thought provoking plot is more a reflection on society as a whole, whilst still flaunting Tillman’s beautiful vocal range. The narrative exploring the self obsessive character, leaves you reflecting upon yourself with lyrics such as “Eventually the dying man takes his final breath/ But first checks his news feed to see what he’s about to miss”, being relatable to so many.
The seriousness comes to a halt in ‘Birdie’ as Father John Misty decides to explain society’s paradigms to a “winged creature” but it returns again in repetitive lullaby ‘Leaving LA’. The 13 minute track sums up the singer’s entire ethos as if picking his brain apart for answers.
With jazz, bluesy riffs sprinkled within, ‘A Bigger Paper Bag’ shows Tillman’s attitude to having “the world by the balls”. The cultural observation blends into piano driven ‘When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay’, exploring the theme of human nature. Discussing the “savage and unjust” nature of life today, the track has a solid structure, unlike many of the other tracks.
‘Smoochie’ finds Tillman investigating internal conflicts rather than external issues. He cleverly mirrors “personal demons” and “shadows inside” with a form of reverb on his usually comforting vocals, making it uncomfortable yet unforgettable.
‘Two Widely Different Perspectives’ released earlier this year in the wake of Trump’s abhorrent order implement a Muslim ban, provides an insight into the consequences of such policies. Taking a more thought provoking rather than satirical angle, the track leaves you entirely emotionally drained.
Tillman hasn’t lost his sense of comedy just yet, as he begins to mock the creative industry in ‘The Memo’. He makes humour of the vocabulary used by today’s generation but he’s soon cut off by a computer generated voice, distorting his vocals. The American singer’s angelic voice suddenly returns as if nothing has occurred, leaving you doubting whether you heard correctly in the first place
The album is brought to a satisfying but unwelcome end with ‘So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mounting’ , which blends effortless into ‘In Twenty Years Or So’. The final track mocks our pointless worries as we are just “a spec on a spec on a spec”.
‘Pure Comedy’ is the sort of music that will and should be studied in years to come, giving a truthful comment on society in the most artistic way. The thought provoking album challenges musical conventions, forcing the cultural observer, Father John Misty, to be on everybody’s radar.