Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, recently told
magazine; "I don't want to give the impression that I'm old Uncle Jerry standing on top of F*** mountain, waving his finger at people."
This disclaimer is almost absolutely necessary to be able to listen to all 73 minutes of Pure Comedy without yanking your headphones out in frustration.
Tillman's third album often feels a draining catalogue of aimless misanthropic despair, with the former Fleet Foxes member criticising everything from modern technology to the very evolution of the human body. It only takes three tracks before he's calling Earth a "godless rock that refuses to die".
The album is saved by its more measured and self-aware tracks, which deliver a thoughtful inward look at humanity. Total Entertainment Forever takes on technology with a joyous blend of horns and piano, while Ballad of the Dying Man has Tillman inhabit that hyper-critical Uncle Jerry character alongside a wistfully serene melody.
Pure Comedy loses steam several times; there are too many dreary piano ballads, including the 13-minute Leaving LA that goes absolutely nowhere (which Tillman himself points out in the eighth verse, should any listener make it through far enough to hear him). But just when you're ready to dismiss him, it's on this track that he does it for you: "That's just what we all need/Another white guy in 2017/who takes himself so goddamn seriously."
This self-parody doubles as a warning: Taking the album too seriously is a mistake that would spoil the real genius at play. Tillman's lyrical brilliance is hard to overlook, and for all its faults, Pure Comedy is ultimately a cathartic ode to our weird and ridiculous world.
Father John Misty, Pure Comedy
Father John Misty
Moments of satirical genius save Father John Misty's tiresome lament for humanity