A beautiful and foreboding soundtrack for the end of civilisation.
Label: Bella Union
Released: 7th April 2017
Regardless of the fact it’s been two years since masterpiece ‘I Love You, Honeybear’, after the 2016 we all endured, we were due a new Father John Misty album.
‘Pure Comedy’, all 75 minutes of it, finds the often-satirical and humanity-loathing singer inspired to tackle a host of pressing issues from religion, environment and social media. But ultimately, the punchline to ‘Pure Comedy’ is human nature, and Father John Misty isn’t messing around.
The title track and opener feels like the first (of many to come) protest songs in ‘Trump’s America’ while introducing this more brooding, piano-led style that continues throughout the 13 tracks.
From there, ‘Total Entertainment Forever’ harks back to classic Father John Misty with a more frenzied style and a little ‘Kanye-moment’ in the opening line, “Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift”. But then ‘Pure Comedy’ settles back into its groove with the outstanding ‘Things That Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution’. With swinging drum rolls, tense strings and horns swelling into a powerful explosion that sets the song apart.
Delving deep into ‘Pure Comedy’, the ballads continue to roll and start to feel a little preachy as the minimalist instrumentation underlay these stark observations on society. The infrequent electronic glitches and samples which decorate the album come out a little more to ‘pep up’ the sound in ‘Birdie’ before the marathon, 13-minute, ‘Leaving LA’ swings in.
Meandering towards its climax, Father John Misty glides between the poet and satirist sumptuously with beautiful lines like, “You must not know the first thing about us human beings. We’re the Earth’s most soulful predators.” And also the more bizarre, “Gonna steal some bed sheets from an amputee…”
‘So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain’, coming in at just under 10 minutes, is truly an epic. Where ‘Leaving L.A.’ and all its ten stanzas feels self-indulgent, this track offers more with its nuanced lyrics and sprawling soundscapes. It’s a track that brightens up the second half of the album.
To close, Father John Misty takes his bleak view of humanity and, rather than just make a note of it, offers a little hope as he soothes, “There’s nothing to fear”. While it’s something of a lighter note, ‘Pure Comedy’ is a beautiful and foreboding soundtrack for the end of civilisation. Alex Bradley