Artist: Father John Misty
Title: “Pure Comedy”
Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: January 23, 2017
Josh Tillman’s world is falling down.
He sees it clearly: humankind’s time is running short. Our fleeting dreams finally running on empty. Looking into the glaring brightness of a computer screen and seeing only falsehood and self-sabotage staring back, the man known to many as Father John Misty can’t help but feel disdain. And he isn’t alone. Given a natural, perhaps even cumbersome gift for turning raw human struggle into digestible fodder for songs that serve as a kind of melodic doomsday prep, Tillman’s latest “Pure Comedy” is a striking extension of all the inner turmoil and sickening pleasures he explored on I Love You, Honeybear. Looking beyond himself and out into a world that looks increasingly like a parody of itself, this dependable songsmith abandons many elements of his past endeavors, mainly his sharp, layered sense of humor.
Whole verses within this dense lyrical maze forgo rhyme, and the song seems somewhat mired in clever chord changes until you’re able to see the whole picture from above. At that moment it’s plain to see the bombs falling, crushing all the tired memes and the wasteful, self-obsessed people with one massive pressure wave. Especially when you follow along with the brilliantly cynical music video, once a seismically powerful climax has passed and Tillman chimes in with “Just random matter, suspended in the dark. I hate to say it, but each other’s all we’ve got” you can’t have noticed that six minutes have passed. There’s just too much to process. An abridged telling of the entire story of human racing is present in these six minutes, from universally built-in bodily inadequacies to the rise and fall of ‘wholesome’ ideals and the ailing significance of omnipresent social structures. Such a moving song is bound to call up a whirlwind of emotions, among them extreme fear, discomfort and a strangely conclusive sense of artistic pride. Upon first listen my brain immediately compelled me to write several more lines of similarly styled poetry as I latched onto this amazing, scattered feeling and refused to let it leave me. April 7 can’t come soon enough.