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Analysis and Dissection of Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy

By Maria Carrasco | 20/4/17 1:00pm
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Courtesy of Pitchfork

Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, aka the drummer from Fleet Foxes, released his third album Pure Comedy on Friday, April 7, two years after his iconic sophomore album, I Love You, Honeybear.

And during this two year transition, Tillman shifts from an in-love-with-love persona to one that is very skeptical, raw and unhinged about society. And listeners really see this analysis of humankind in this new album. But what makes this more than just a white man explaining all of the world’s issues, is how Misty uses humor to punch these issues out.

The album begins with self-titled track “Pure Comedy,” a poetic song about religion and combatting nihilism, whether it be through drugs or alcohol, and how these issues are systemic.

“The only thing that seems to make them feel alive is the struggle to survive / But the only thing that they request is something to numb the pain with / Until there's nothing human left / Just random matter suspended in the dark / I hate to say it, but each other's all we got.”

But a standout track from this album is “Ballad of a Dying Man” which is essentially about a self-obsessed dying man who believes that his commentary is the most important thing in the world. And while this might not make for the most interesting song material, Misty makes it work and composes a truly great song.

“Just think of all the overrated hacks running amok / And all of the pretentious, ignorant voices that will go unchecked / The homophobes, hipsters, and 1% / The false feminists he'd managed to detect / Oh, who will critique them once he's left?”

Misty finalizes the song analysis by writing about the dying man’s death, and how the dying man dies looking at his news feed, searching for the next hot topic.

“Eventually the dying man takes his final breath / But first checks his news feed to see what he's 'bout to miss / And it occurs to him a little late in the game / We leave as clueless as we came / From rented heavens to the shadows in the cave / We'll all be wrong someday.”

But the greatest analysis of humankind in this album has to “Leaving LA” where Misty takes down the music industry for 13 minutes.

“These L.A. phonies and their bullshit bands / That sound like dollar signs and Amy Grant / So reads the pull quote from my last cover piece / Entitled "The Oldest Man in Folk Rock Speaks” / You can hear it all over the airwaves / The manufactured gasp of the final days / Someone should tell them ‘bout the time that they don’t have / To praise the glorious future and the hopeless past.”

And Misty continues this song with writing these punchy, pointed lyrics and additionally, pokes fun at himself and his persona in the process.

“Mara taunts me 'neath the tree / She's like, "Oh great, that's just what we all need / Another white guy in 2017 / Who takes himself so goddamn seriously." / She's not far off, the strange thing is / That's pretty much what I thought when I started this / It took me my whole life to learn to the play the G / But the role of Oedipus was a total breeze.”