Father John Misty

Pure Comedy


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Pure Comedy
Two Wildly Different Perspectives
Memo, The
So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain
In Twenty Years or So
Total Entertainment Forever
Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
Ballad of the Dying Man
Leaving L.A.
Bigger Paper Bag, A
When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay

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GTIN (UPC): 098787120011 SKU: 098787120011 Categories: , Tag:


Pure Comedy, Father John Misty’s third album, is a complex, often-sardonic, and, equally often, touching meditation on the confounding folly of modern humanity. Father John Misty is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Josh Tillman. Tillman has released two widely acclaimed albums – Fear Fun (2012) and I Love You, Honeybear (2015) – and the recent “Real Love Baby” single as Father John Misty, and recently contributed to songs by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Kid Cudi. While we could say a lot about Pure Comedy – including that it is a bold, important album in the tradition of American songwriting greats like Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and Leonard Cohen – we think it’s best to let its creator describe it himself. Take it away, Mr. Tillman: Pure Comedy is the story of a species born with a half-formed brain. The species’ only hope for survival, finding itself on a cruel, unpredictable rock surrounded by other species who seem far more adept at this whole thing (and to whom they are delicious), is the reliance on other, slightly older, half-formed brains. This reliance takes on a few different names as their story unfolds, like “love,” “culture,” “family,” etc. Over time, and as their brains prove to be remarkably good at inventing meaning where there is none, the species becomes the purveyor of increasingly bizarre and sophisticated ironies. These ironies are designed to help cope with the species’ loathsome vulnerability and to try and reconcile how disproportionate their imagination is to the monotony of their existence. Something like that. Pure Comedy was recorded in 2016 at the legendary United Studios (Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Beck) in Hollywood, CA. It was produced by Father John Misty and Jonathan Wilson, with engineering by Misty’s longtime sound-person Trevor Spencer and orchestral arrangements by renowned composer/double-bassist Gavin Bryars (known for extensive solo work, and work with Brian Eno, Tom Waits, Derek Bailey).

Like anything that comes out of the mouth of Father John Misty — the hipster gadfly persona Josh Tillman adopted after leaving the Fleet Foxes in 2012 — it can be difficult to discern whether the title of Pure Comedy is intended sincerely. Father John Misty cherishes his public role as a prankster, a stance that can sometimes seem at odds with his grand artistic ambitions. And, make no mistake about it, Pure Comedy is indeed a very grand record, an old-fashioned major statement designed to evoke memories of classic long-players from the ’70s. Often, its stately march and decorated pianos call to mind early Elton John, suggesting the hazy vistas of Madman Across the Water. This shift toward progressive pop underscores how Father John Misty has streamlined his music since I Love You, Honeybear, whittling away the minor feints toward modern music and stripping away lingering rustic folk influences. He’s now a postmodern troubadour, halfway between a song poet and a baroque craftsman. Where his antecedents (and clear influences) Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman sculpted their music and words, Tillman isn’t quite so restrained. He’s a maximalist, overstuffing his lyrics with florid imagery and letting his songs spill out at lengths up to 13 minutes. From a certain angle, all this can play like an elaborate stunt — particularly when he baits the listener with lines about “bedding Taylor Swift” — but there’s a strong melancholy undercurrent to Pure Comedy that suggests Father John Misty is something more than a jester. All of this can be felt through the music itself — through the melodies and movement, through the arrangement and production — and that, more than the verbal gymnastics, is why Pure Comedy delivers upon much of Father John Misty’s outlandish promises. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine



Additional information

Weight 27 oz
Dimensions 12 × 12 × 1 in


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