Father John Misty, the alter ego of singer/songwriter Josh Tillman, has produced records full of character, energy, wit and charm with releases Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear getting fans and critics alike excited about songwriters again. He has written lyrics that make you think and smile and songs that make you dance and cry, so naturally I was excited to hear the new record, Pure Comedy.
The tone of this record is set right from the first track (and title track) “Pure Comedy”.
Meandering lyrics, forming almost as a stream of consciousness over dramatic, minimalist piano before the band joins to add more atmosphere to the track. However, when I say tone, what I really mean is that it sets the template for almost every track on the album.
Father John Misty has had slow piano ballads on past albums, but an entire album of them is really way too much. Especially with “So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain” coming it at 9:59 and “Leaving LA” clocks in at 13:13!
This is self indulgent, but not in an enjoyable way.
As a listener I don’t feel like I am on the journey with him, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in.
The closest we get to the Misty of old is on “Total Entertainment Forever” which is more upbeat, sharper, and has that cutting wit I have enjoyed so much. But there’s still a certain spark missing. This is by far the best song on Pure Comedy and it’s the second track in.
I’m rarely negative in a review as I like to try and find something positive to write about. After all, music is subjective and everyone’s tastes vary. There may be a track or two that speaks to someone, that may sum up perfectly a moment in time.
But as an album, Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy it’s a trudge. A slow, wandering, trudge through a swamp of uninspiring, over-produced, first drafts put to music.
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. When you set the bar high, you have to push yourself to meet that mark. As an artist you owe it to yourself to do yourself justice. Put your best foot forward and make something you can be proud to put your name on. I hope this is just a bump in the road creatively or it’s being used as a means to fulfil a contract or something cynical like that, because it certainly hasn’t made a statement about the artist Father John Misty has proven to be.