The world, and especially the Music-Blog Industrial Complex, is a far better place for the existence of Father John Misty (née Josh Tillman), the walking, crooning, ivory-tickling pull quote whose music lately feels like a mere promotional opportunity for his real art and true love, which is promotional opportunities. His interviews are more compelling than his songs, is what I’m saying he’s saying.
This is more of a compliment to the post-indie-rock raconteur’s often magnificently garrulous profiles than an insult to his new album, Pure Comedy, which is lovely and thorny and impressively frustrating, like a Randy Newman song cannibalizing itself, equally proud and ashamed at how delicious it tastes. It’s a pretty good album! But it can’t possibly compete, attention-span-wise, with shit like this.
Here we find the video for the Pure Comedy standout “Total Entertainment Forever,” which is a standout because (a) it’s the shortest and catchiest track, and (b) it’s the one that starts with the words, “Bedding Taylor Swift / Every night in the Oculus Rift.” That line alone torpedoes the song by design, stirring up controversy and future hot takes so loud and voluminous you can’t follow the actual tune. Now the song is saddled with a video in which Macaulay Culkin, playing Kurt Cobain, is crucified by Tillman, who’s playing Ronald McDonald. A whole lot of other loopy stuff happens: The “King of the Cucks” sign hanging over Kurt/Macaulay’s head as the video comes to a close is an especially bloggable detail.
My third-favorite thing about Pure Comedy happens 10 minutes into the 13-minute symphonic-folk dirge “Leaving LA,” when Tillman imagines the bro-ier portions of his fan base abandoning him in real time: “Some 10-verse, chorus-less diatribe / Plays as they all jump ship, ‘I used to like this guy.’” My second-favorite thing is the way he howls, “It’s like something that a madman would conceive” at the end of the opening title track. My absolute favorite thing, though, is the combined weight of all the bonkers interviews that preceded the album, and all the equally bonkers future videos and stunts that will doubtless sustain it in the news cycle for weeks, if not months. Does that mean the record itself is a failure? Or a rousing success? Sounds like a blog post! Summer will be here soon enough, but FJM is still dutifully shivering through the winter of our content. Thanks for clicking.