Album Review: Father John Misty’s ‘Pure Comedy’ Experience

Holy Shit… Pure Comedy is a more than a new album; it’s a complete feeling (and different song title) from the darkest Father John Misty era yet.


On Pure Comedy, Josh Tillman’s brainmanchild has reached the Mount Everest peak of bullshit and sickening reality.

If Tillman can make a living performing at Bonnaroo and throwing blow up dolls at moon-eyed college kids, then Misty has trashed that commercial success with political vomit and enough Pitchfork coverage to rival Kanye West.

Just like Mr. Kim Kardashian, Misty’s audience contradicts the very slim market it’s meant for. I blame this partially on the hipster epidemic that caught wind of I Love You Honeybear and smashed everything good about it into the pulpy abyss of filmy narcissism.

This was not going to be a cookie cutter follow-up, “Pure Comedy” and “Ballad of the Dying Man,” established that months ago. Tillman flirts out of Misty’s shadow like Peter Pan this time around.

His music prior to the birth of Misty was dark and emotional, as anyone would expect out of a folk rock artist that used to bang the drums in Fleet Foxes. While this project is still in the umbrella of shock value that Misty has racked up, it is the most himself he’s been to the largest audience he’s ever had.

The first performance of “Total Entertainment Forever” was the worst identity crisis to unfold on SNL in recent times.

Misty got to push in a few pompous dance moves, but his own comfort was clearly jeopardized by the direction of either his manager or the SNL producers. There was no usual snide commentary or appearance in a live comedy sketch-mainly because the Taylor Swift listening Twitter age adults didn’t find an ounce of appeal in him.

2017 is a year where Twitter decides the content of a live broadcast without having any say in the production itself, which is partially a prime example of the shit show that the entertainment industry is heading towards. Imagine a world where pop stars are placed on such a tall pedestal, that actual people will pay to virtually fuck them – it’s barbaric and nasty.

As a fan of Tillman as a creative entity, I would rather bite my toenails off in a parking lot than listen to “Leaving LA.”

It could have been 13 minutes of Tillman ordering a McChicken, it could have been a mild Trump bitch fest, but it is instead the pinnacle of Tillman’s embarrassing rise in the music industry.

“It’s like my father said before he croaked /Son you’re killing me, and that’s all folks / That what I’m selling is getting bought / At some point you just can’t control / What people use your fake name for,” is one of the most Tillman lyrics ever patched into a Misty preach.

Some of the tracks can be swallowed, but they give more heartburn than Joey’s World Tour’s YouTube channel.

The first 40 seconds of “Birdie,” feel serene and gentle, until Tillman puts a giant cage around the definition of freedom he has assumed. This song could have been more cohesive if he wasn’t so accepting of inevitable social change.

Consumerism and enjoyment in life are slandered and raked through coals in “The Memo.” While Misty’s horror of the One Direction and The Beatles mega-fan girl business shtick is not untrue, it’s just a poor example of economy. In this short track, he bottom feeds the assholes that judge anyone who enjoy pop music, while furthering the aesthetic of his intuitive followers.

“So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain,” sounds like a 2017-updated version of Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain.”  (Go listen to that song if you’ve never heard it). This track won’t haunt him for the rest of his career like Young, but it captures the whiny feeling of growing up.

As with any god-awful experience like getting a root canal at eight in the morning, Pure Comedy does eventually end. In natural Misty style, this album ends with the bleak or positive perspective (depending on your cup of overpriced tea), that nothing will matter since the world is projected to end in 20 years or so anyways.

His final bite into the air is “In Twenty Years or So,” where he ends his bitter musings with a laughable cop-out-death!

One can only hope we get to see more of Tillman on his next album, maybe next time without the poster child character he has clearly surpassed in contentment.


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