Pure Comedy — Father John Misty — W.A.C.#4

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Pure Comedy

My thoughts

So a really recent one as the time of writing, it’s not yet two months old. Pure Comedy is the third studio album of Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty. The titular track takes a broad look at our emergence in the world as a child, and indeed its parallel of human emergence as a species; it’s also a knock at religion in its way. Musically it’s a nice ballad with a solid semi orchestral backing. FJM’s voice is pretty strong too and he sings with passion. I really like it but I have to hesitate and hope that this album isn’t just “nihilism because people are people”; the sort of false-depth you sometimes see.

I really like the consistent solid chord progressions and the songs are indeed catchy. This is well expressed in Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution, I just love this track musically and lyrically it’s alright, it’s the idea that a revolution got rid of the bad but brought other problems. It’s nice enough – in fact all of FJM’s tracks are good listening. It fits in to “work music”, “background music”, “personal listening” and stylistically, it’s very much a man and his microphone!

Unfortunately for me, it’s all a bit samey! I mean I quite like the slow paced ballad focusing on people in general but it kind of feels a bit one note – perhaps that’s just his thing. Leaving LA sort of hits a point that I was feeling

Another white guy in 2017
Who takes himself so goddamn seriously.”
She’s not far off, the strange thing is
That’s pretty much what I thought when I started this

Yeah – so some self awareness there but you can’t say “well I’m aware, so it’s fine”. I’m not saying there’s not a place for this music of course, it’s just lots of songs whose purpose is just to be deep. Musically it’s gentle and lovely but lyrically, just a little problematic.

One of the stronger tracks for me is Two Wildly Different Perspectives, which is completely aimed at American politics talking about how both sides are problematic.

One side says
“Man, take what’s yours!”
The other says
“Live on no more than you can afford.”

And between each line is a little pause to let the words resonate, or at least that’s the gimmick.

The final track In Twenty Years or So is very much the closer to the opener, both with ideas of “clinging to a rock hurtling through space”. This one has a lot of seventh chords so very much pushes that there is more to say. Musically it’s quite rich and actually does a fairly good job (finally!) of just letting the instruments play and it’s a great sound with some actually varied musical ideas!

Overall this album is full of parts that are really good but somewhat detract from each other. The lyrics tug you one way, the music another and when it’s allowed to do its own thing, it works best. Any of these songs works as a great single but as an album it’s a little tedious for me.

Is this album for you?

I may have been a little critical; a lot of it works and there is a lot of solid stuff for me but it’s syrup syndrome… I can like some but not spoonful after spoonful. Try it for that easy going indie sound and maybe get a little lost in it. You’ll know fairly quickly if it works for you or not.

Scores

  • Writing: 5.5/10 (too samey)
  • Performance: 8/10
  • Style: 7.5/10

 

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