Since 2012, Father John Misty aka Josh Tillman has unexpectedly emerged as a singular (if not undeniably, um, idiosyncratic) voice. Whether by virtue of his lyrics, which routinely defy the presumed polarities of wit and empathy; his live performances which may perhaps be described best as “intimately berzerk," or the infuriating line he seems to occupy between canny and total fraud online or in interviews, Father John Misty has cultivated a rare space for himself in the musical landscape – that of a real enigma.
Pure Comedy sees Tillman at the height of these powers: as a lyricist, and equally so a cultural observer – at times bordering on freakishly prescient. Tillman’s bent critiques, bared humanity and gently warped classic songwriting are all here in equal measure and – at 75 minutes – there’s a veritable ton of it. The album navigates themes of progress, technology, fame, the environment, politics, aging, social media, human nature, human connection and his own role in it all with his usual candor, and in terms as timely as they are timeless.
Tillman wrote the majority of Pure Comedy throughout 2015 and recorded all the basic tracking and vocals live to tape (in no more than two takes each) at United Studios (the legendary Ocean Way Studios, favored by Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys) in Los Angeles March 2016.
Pure Comedy was co-produced once again by Josh Tillman and long-time producer Jonathan Wilson; mixed by Tillman, Wilson and Trevor Spencer, and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios. The album features string, horn and choral arrangements from classical iconoclast Gavin Bryars (Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Sinking Of The Titanic), with additional contributions from Nico Muhly and Thomas Bartlett.
Pure Comedy’s front/back covers and gatefold features a gargantuan original piece (his first ever commission of its kind) by Ed Steed (The New Yorker).