Track Review | Father John Misty, ‘Pure Comedy’
Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) shines on “Pure Comedy,” the promo single for his forthcoming album of the same title.
The return of Father John Misty – aka Josh Tillman – is “kind of a big deal.” Father John Misty is one of the truly elite singer/songwriters of the 10s. While his following is more cult- as opposed to mainstream, his gifts are indisputable. Two years after releasing the painfully underrated I Love You, Honeybear, he returns with his third studio album, Pure Comedy. Fittingly, the title track serves as the promo for the forthcoming project.
“Pure Comedy” opens with samples from a newsroom. After about 18 seconds of the bizarre, piano and Tillman’s vocals take over. As always, the harmonic progression is ear catching, as is Tillman’s captivating voice. Even with the added stability of the piano anchoring things down throughout the first two minutes, there are various sound effects that keep things interesting.
By the two-minute mark, the groove has asserted itself, as does the full palette of sounds. As always, the lyrics are ambitious, and pure genius. Tillman has always had a knack for compelling songwriting thanks to his penchant for humor and being outlandish. The other aspect that makes his lyrics brilliant is his sense of poetry and depth. Is “Pure Comedy” a hoot? Not outright, but lyrics are absurd at times, while the subject matter suits the sentiment of the title.
The opening lyrics certainly set the tone:
“The comedy of man starts like this / Our brains are way too big for our mother’s hips / And so nature, she divines this alternative / We emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets the other end / is kind enough to fill us in / And, babies, that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since.”
Dissect the lyrics throughout the course of “Pure Comedy” and Father John Misty touches on numerous societal issues, including women’s rights, religion, and politics. Politics is central. By the end, he is fully invested, singing with conviction:
“Oh comedy, oh it’s like something that a madman would conceive! / The only thing that seems to make them feel alive is the struggle to survive.”
Notably, the music video clarifies many of the lyrics. A short film was also made.
As always, Father John Misty is compelling and consistent. Promo single “Pure Comedy” only builds anticipation for Tillman’s upcoming album of the same title. This is sensationally written and exceptionally produced.