Father John Misty’s got the world by the balls in “Pure Comedy”



Pure Comedy cover art

“Pure Comedy,” the third album released by Father John Misty, is his best since his departure from Fleet Foxes. This album, produced by Misty and released in April of 2017, peaked at the number one spot for rock and alternative music on Billboard. It takes a hard look into themes like religion, humanity and entertainment, and gives his personal take, using descriptive and precise lyrics.

For starters, this album has some great vocals by Misty. If you have been a fan of his work for some time now, you would know that his vocals are a signature of his work. On this album, his vocals are taken to a new level of greatness and it really shows on songs like “Ballad of the Dying Man” and “Pure Comedy.” He uses his voice beautifully, expanding his vocal range ever more so on this album than on previous work. Expanding his range enables Misty’s lyric writing to shine through on the album.

The most impressive part of this album is the lyrics. I was in shock listening to this album, because Misty’s lyric writing is so different to anything else I have ever listened to. One example of this would be on the hit song “Total Entertainment Forever,” where after a brief instrumental introduction, Misty sings, “Bedding Taylor Swift, every night inside the Oculus Rift. After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes.” Suggestive as that sounds, Misty uses those lyrics to paint a picture of a society attached to pornography and celebrities. It’s definitely something that sticks out while listening to this album.

Another example of Misty’s great lyric writing is on the song “Ballad of the Dying Man,” where he sings, “Eventually the dying man takes his final breath, but first checks his news feed to see what he’s about to miss.” When I first heard this, I found it funny that this person is dying, but the last thing they do is check what they are going to miss in the future, instead of reflecting on their life and what they made of it. As I have thought about this song, specifically those lyrics, more and more, it has become troublesome to me that, hypothetically, someone would be so concerned about the future as they are dying. It suggests a society in which people avoid reflection and are too worried about the immediate moment.

My favorite lyrics are in the song “A Bigger Paper Bag,” where Misty sings, “Oh, I was pissing on the flame, like a child with cash or a king on cocaine. I’ve got the world by the balls, am I supposed to behave?” I have had that song, specifically those lyrics, stuck in my head for weeks before writing this, and so sometimes I’ll just softly sing parts of the song to myself like, “I’ve got the world by the balls.” I think sometimes people can hear me, despite trying to sing softly, and must think, “Boy . . . Pat is feeling ambitious today.”

I liked the musical arrangement on this album. I don’t think that it sticks out when listening, but it shouldn’t, because Misty’s vocals are so strong that the instrumentals should take a backseat. Many songs are played delicately with acoustic guitars and pianos, while Misty’s vocals carry the majority of the weight. The outlier of the album, instrumentally, is “Total Entertainment Forever,” where the drums, acoustic guitars, piano and trumpets are played at an upbeat tempo, despite it being a dark song.

Overall, this album is his best out of the three he has released so far. This was the most deep and emotion-fueled album that he has put out. If you haven’t listened to Misty before and you are a fan of alternative albums with strong themes, I can see no reason why you would not like this album. For any Misty fans who are looking for new music, he released a single titled “Mr. Tillman” and should be releasing an album sometime in 2018.