“Pure Comedy”

A review of Father John Misty’s review of the human race

Artwork by Ruby Guthrie

Artwork by Ruby Guthrie

It’s been years since solemn, indie-folk singer Josh Tillman dropped acid, decided to quit being such a sad bastard, and adopted the ostentatious and sarcastic persona known as Father John Misty. In that time, he’s attracted fervent fans and haters alike; such a pretentious personality demands it. On his April 7 release, “Pure Comedy,” Tillman finds himself returning to his somber roots, but with much more existential dread and sarcastic quip. The result is much less fun and far more pretentious than his previous work as Misty, and it just may be the snarky, yet desperate commentary that we all need in these dark times.

The titular “comedy” to which Tillman is referring is the greatest comedy of them all: the human condition. Tillman relishes in the irony that despite all our grand gesturing and philosophizing, our frayed existence is confined to an insignificant speck of dust floating in celestial nothingness.

Throughout the album, Tillman makes a mockery of our entertainment-obsessed, egotistical culture, using his signature, witty lyricism to spawn such immortal lines as “Bedding Taylor Swift / Every night inside the Oculus Rift.” In “Ballad of the Dying Man,” he tells the story of a man on his deathbed, mourning the universe’s loss of his own brilliant mind and social critique, before drawing his final breath and checking his news feed one last time.

To those who aren’t infatuated with his lanky metrosexual getup or don’t find his musings to be particularly profound or interesting, the hyper-intellectual angst can be suffocating. But, if Misty is anything, it’s self-aware. On the 13-minute “Leaving LA,” he launches into a self-deprecating analysis of himself. He sings “And I’m merely a minor fascination to / Manic virginal lust and college dudes.”

How Misty of him.