By Becky Little (@sometimesboring)
Scrolling through Twitter today, it is clear to see that everyone’s favourite narcissist Josh Tillman, known more commonly to you and I as Father John Misty, has created yet another version of his pseudonym. What will it be this time? ‘Farmer Jah Misery’? Nope. Of course, it is ‘Feather Jam Ministry’. Whether this is a big fuck you to critics and the music industry we may never know. It probably isn’t, due to the critical acclaim of his most recent offering Pure Comedy, released on the 7th April. It’s almost as if he loves taking the piss out of himself. However, his online presence is undeniably full of eccentricity, which is to be expected when your success has come from whinging about existentialism so beautifully.
Pure Comedy is the third album our Holy Father has released, which packs in just as much punchy realism and sheer gorgeousness as predecessors Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear, respectively released in 2012 and 2015. We were teased in 2016 with the release of Real Love Baby, the first single post-I Love You, Honeybear, a song which rings true with desperate millennials everywhere by claiming “I want real love, baby, ooh don’t keep me waiting.’ Joking aside, the single may have wrongly set us up for an LP just as romantic.
Instead, Pure Comedy is a beautiful and sometimes harrowing critique of 21st-century life, almost taking the piss out of the internet and the culture surrounding it. A perfect example of this is personal favourite Total Entertainment Forever, a track which begins with ‘Bedding Taylor Swift, every night inside the Oculus Rift’. It seems a little sarcastic, no? To be honest, you couldn’t really expect anything less from Josh than a quippy reference to popular culture, which can be seen again in Ballad of the Dying Man, as he references ‘the homophobes, hipsters and 1%’, despite arguably being part of one of those demographics…(I mean hipsters. He isn’t a problematic fave. He’s just a pure fave. As far as we’re aware.)
Further into the album, the song A Bigger Paper Bag seems to tackle more sensitive issues involving coping with mental health, with our Josh singing about being “bent on taking demons down with only your fists”. It is within this song that one of the greatest lyrics of the entire album is nestled – “What a fraud, what a con, you’re the only, one I love”. Here we find a little bit of that missing romanticism, despite it being in a song presumably about alcoholism.
Moving on, and not to sound like a GCSE English essay, but it could be interpreted that Pure Comedy is a grandiose message about the state of current society. Especially with lyrics such as ‘I’ve got the world by the balls, am I supposed to behave?’ which could easily be a reference to the leaders of our world who have no clue what they are doing. They’re in it so they can have their white, wrinkly hands on our incredible diverse world by the balls. Our collective balls.
Thanks, Josh, once again we are left contemplating our own existence. Very on brand.