Father John Misty – Pure Comedy (4 stars)

Frustrated, hopeful, perplexed, euphoric lyricism and sparse, country-tinged rock

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Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Those who consider themselves ripe for some preachin' will be doing backflips of devotional rapture come the arrival of this third album by sometime Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman. Under his Father John Misty alias, his Pure Comedy has been touted as a record which speaks vividly of its times, doing so in mighty great brush strokes of frustrated, hopeful, perplexed, euphoric lyricism and sparse, country-tinged rock which feels frayed around the edges.

This is protest music which doesn't so much protest as write a lengthy thinkpiece for Medium on everything that's wrong with the world and sits back to wait for the likes. But those words are wonderful, with the tenderness of the music perfectly complementing the committed thoughtfulness. The title track sets out a powerful stall, a wearily amused takedown of the male power structure, particularly the kind that finds leverage in religion or money: 'fashioning new gods so they can go on being godless animals'.

Against a warm bank of horns, 'Total Entertainment Forever' shrugs exasperatedly at the narcotic effects of the media, and 'Things That Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution' eulogises his own youthful fervour as he feels 'the nightlife and the protests' slip away. Tillman's music is a silk glove for the clenched fist beneath it, a collective swoon of piano, acoustic guitar and subdued string arrangements.

'A Bigger Paper Bag' may have been written from a Presidential perspective ('I've got the world by the balls / am I supposed to behave?') and 'Two Wildly Different Perspectives on Both Sides' offers stark and non-judgmental commentary about human division. It's an album which reveals itself, through the stunning triangulation of love, courage and apocalypse of 'In Twenty Years or So', both monolithic in its wisdom and traumatised by the reverberating turmoil of its own sense of shaken certainty

Out on Fri 7 Apr.

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