Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, recently dropped his third studio record, “Pure Comedy,” and it is something that needs to be talked about.
Tillman, the ex-drummer of indie rock outfit Fleet Foxes, has quite a few projects under his belt, including two full albums under his own name, his two records and two EPs with Fleet Foxes and now his three albums and one EP under the title Father John Misty.
At the first listen, this album is light-hearted, soft, slow and soulful.
But as you listen to the record more, it becomes more cinematic, beautiful and cynical.
Then, after more listens and focusing on the lyrics, one can realize how poetic, dark and comedic the record is.
For a record so easy on the ears and so simple, it is one of the hardest albums to digest.
It did not quite start making sense for me until about 20 or so listens.
A reason for having to re-listen to this record is because the lyrics in each song are woven in such a way to elicit a response.
Each song is slowly crafted to portray a story or thought-provoking idea, but they are not easygoing topics in the slightest.
This record brings up topics all in the realm of humanity.
Specifically, it talks about technology, religion, politics, greed and human nature.
This record brings up issues that everyday people, like you and me, run into — whether they be positive or negative.
There is not enough time to break down each song and what they all talk about, but a quote from the liner notes from Tillman says it all.
“Imagine if you will, as the album starts, that you’re way out in space looking at the earth and, though it’s impossible to ‘fall’ through space, for the next 75 minutes you plummet towards the earth, losing more and more perspective on what an abstract and impermanent place our planet is,” Tillman said.
Now let’s get into song structure and production.
With this record, there are four different approaches when it comes to the song structure.
The first three songs, “Pure Comedy,” “Total Entertainment Forever” and “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” all have this grand, angelic and artistic style to them.
All the horns and different sound effects add to the angelic and eerie feeling within the songs.
Then you get the next five songs, including “Ballad of the Dying Man” and “When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay,” and they are a lot slower than the first three.
They are mostly just guitar or piano with maybe a slow jazz style drum in the background.
But the power that Tillman produces from his voice, as well as the angelic chorus that keeps coming up in these songs, helps carry you through each song.
Next you get “Smoochie,” “Two Wildly Different Perspectives” and “The Memo” that all have this Radiohead feel to them.
They are the most eerie songs on this record, but also the most experimental and beautifully sounding songs as well. Each song is like a journey through a different world and is something that needs to be experienced.
The last two songs, “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain” and “In Twenty Years or So” are these slow closers to the record.
The first of the two is a long ballad, but builds to the angelic and smooth ending that will come with the last song.
Overall, this is a record that is not for the faint of heart.
But, if you want something that is deep and moody, while also being angelic and beautiful, then please take a listen to this.
Happy Listening Gannon University!
• Favorite Song: “Pure Comedy”
• Least Favorite Song: “Leaving LA”
• Rating: mid-high 9/10
• Genre: singer-songwriter, chamber folk, piano rock, experimental folk
• Related artists: Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and Jeffertitti’s Nile