With a large collection of music that all resonated with me, this years runners-up list was hard to finalise. But Pure Comedy by Father John Misty became a must on repeat listens.
The album starts with the birth of a human being and continues with these high aspirations as Joshua Michael Tillmans lyrics reflect on the current world and our place in it. With a mix of wry cutting satire, these songs show us the world of 2017 better than any other album this year. At times they bring a smile to your face with their quick-witted joviality but can just as quickly turn into biting critiques of our current society that at times are so close to the bone they hurt.
The feeling that things are slowly spiraling out of control and we’re hapless to stop it may be a key element of the album but it never wades into the depths of despair. Instead it decides to point and poke fun at the world; both at the society at large and also closer to home, as the personal life and career of the artist are held with the same mix of self-deprecation and humor.
Without the comedy and elements of self-reference the album would end up sounding preachy. Instead Father John Misty sounds less like a prophet pointing out our flaws and more like a hapless observer caught up in all the chaos with us. When he does put himself in an authoritarian position it is often in defense of the people or to reflect some of the hypocrisy in his own beliefs, and that helps bolster the songs even further.
The lyrics may be the driving force in this album and are treated as such, but that doesn’t stop the arrangements and production from enhancing the experience. Traditional singer song writer instrumentation of guitar or piano often underpin each track, yet crescendo with full band instrumentation to lush orchestral accompaniment with great effect.
On Pure Comedy Father John Misty has continued to put forward a pleasing sound with quick-witted lyrics that provide both a reflection and a stark relief to the world of 2017. For that it deserves its place on my list.