Following a buzzed-about appearance as the March 4 musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” (watch above), singer-songwriter Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) released his third album under that moniker on April 7. “Pure Comedy” is a heady, philosophical collection of songs that muse on society’s ills, and critics adore it. It has a score of 90 on MetaCritic, which ranks it as the second highest rated album of 2016 so far, behind “A Crow Looked at Me” by Mount Eerie.
After years of self-released and indie-label music, he joined the band Fleet Foxes in 2008 as their drummer and recorded “Helplessness Blues” with the group in 2011 before leaving the band in 2012. That’s when he began recording music under the pseudonym Father John Misty. His first studio album under the name, “Fear Fun,” was released in 2012, followed by “I Love You, Honeybear” in 2015. Both were acclaimed by critics.
The new album is thematically dark, but “the bleakness of the lyrics is offset by the lusciousness of the melodies.” It’s a “75-minute opus” full of “unrelenting honesty.” He’s “one of pop music’s most profound provocateurs.” Could he now be on the cusp of a Grammy breakthrough? Check out some of the reviews below, and discuss this and more with your fellow music fans in our forums.
Alexis Petridis (Guardian): “You could argue that what he has to say isn’t exactly new … But it’s hard to think of anyone who’s done it this potently … It’s also hard to think of anyone who has done it with better tunes: a great deal of the album’s power comes from the way the bleakness of the lyrics is offset by the lusciousness of the melodies and the comforting familiarity of the sound.”
Mack Hayden (Paste): “Much has been made of the marriage of his conventionally beautiful voice and accessible instrumentation to his nihilistic and irony-soaked lyricism. This record is definitive proof that that relationship is working, lasting and getting better with age … His final words on the album are ‘There’s nothing to fear.’ After all his unrelenting honesty prior, I’m inclined to believe he’s right about that too.”
Jeremy Winograd (Slant): “‘Pure Comedy’s’ understated arrangements of barebones piano and acoustic guitar ensure the focus remains squarely on Tillman’s lyrics and captivating voice, which in terms of tone and delivery remarkably melds austere Leonard Cohen-esque matter-of-factness, billowing would-be croonerisms, and silky-smooth falsetto.”
Jonathan Bernstein (Entertainment Weekly): “Josh Tillman has emerged as one of pop music’s most profound provocateurs … The 75-minute opus is his most boldly experimental and richly produced album to date, with 13 songs that touch on baroque pop, orchestral folk, stark piano balladry, and even gospel.”