Review: Father John Misty – Pure Comedy


Here’s the lowdown: if you have (and love) Father John Misty’s previous couple of albums, go ahead and buy this one too. It is good. Not quite as enjoyable as his previous ones, but good nonetheless. If, on the other hand, you’re not familiar with any Father John Misty and you happen to be of a certain progressively liberal bent, trust me, you need some Father John Misty in your life. Now that Bob Dylan seems to be stuck covering the Great American Songbook, Leonard Cohen has sadly become a permanent Tower of Song resident, Elvis Costello is stubbornly refusing to record another album, and Morrissey has officially lost touch with reality, nobody does social criticism, millennial despair, and existential dread better than Father John Misty. So, for the sake of this review, let’s assume you don’t own any Father John Misty and want to know if Pure Comedy might be a good starting point. Well, I’m afraid this is going to take a two-part, citrus-based explanation.

Picture, if you will, an orange. Yes, I said an orange. One of Mother Nature’s juiciest vitamin-packed snacks, bursting with sweetness. As an added bonus, it’s actually good for you. Now picture a grapefruit. Juicy and vitamin-packed? Sure. Good for you? Of course. Bursting with sweetness? Not so much. Sugar is nature’s way to trick you into consuming the actual thing that’s good for you, the cellulose. This analogy will make total sense in the upcoming second part of the explanation, I promise. Now, imagine that Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear (FJM’s previous two albums) are these big, juicy, sweet oranges. A couple of refreshingly healthy snacks, standing quite apart from the constant deluge of processed food that’s out there. Right next to them stands Pure Comedy – one giant, juicy grapefruit. Yes, it’s refreshing, it’s good for you, but it’s relatively low on sugar content. Okay, so what the hell is sugar in this increasingly annoying analogy? Simply put, sugar is the groove.

Let’s quickly look up groove on Wikipedia. It says groove is the sense of propulsive rhythmic “feel” or sense of “swing”. It’s the “unspecifiable but ordered sense of something that is sustained in a distinctive, regular and attractive way, working to draw the listener in.” Groove was all over the first two Father John Misty albums. It’s the sugar that makes all the apocalyptic paranoia and dark cynicism in the lyrics fun for your brain to consume. After the three opening cuts, however, groove is largely absent from the rest of Pure Comedy. And while it’s an obviously conscious creative choice by the artist, it makes most of Pure Comedy sound like Randy Newman in comparison to I Love You, Honeybear’s perfect symbiosis between Harry Nilsson and Jarvis Cocker laying down tracks at Neil Young’s house in Laurel Canyon circa 1974. Not that sounding like Randy Newman is a bad thing. It’s just not as exciting. And, not that grapefruits aren’t fun to eat and all, but let’s face it, they’re not as fun as oranges. I guess what I’ve been trying to say throughout this review really is that Pure Comedy is definitely no lemon.

Written by George Koynov

George Koynov is a Sofia-born, Berlin-based freelance copywriter with nothin’ to lose.

Author’s rating for Pure Comedy

Pop Magazine’s official rating for Pure Comedy

Rating key
MASTERPIECE a must-have
SUPERB for heavy rotation
EXCELLENT a great achievement
VERY GOOD a respectable result
GOOD worth checking out
FAIR an average outcome
WEAK not convincing stuff
BAD an underwhelming effort
VERY BAD quite a waste
FAIL a total failure

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