Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
Critic Score
Based on 40 reviews
2017 Ratings: #76 / 898
Year End Rank: #16
User Score
2017 Ratings: #45
Liked by 83 people
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The Skinny

Pure Comedy is the perfect name for an album like this; one that trades in seemingly serious evocations, but ultimately reveals itself to be a farce. After 74 minutes of self-congratulatory back-slapping, proselytising, hand-wringing and relativising, Tillman reinforces his belief in man's ineffectuality and weakness amid cosmic indifference.

Pretty Much Amazing

A handful of superb records have already been released in 2017. Pure Comedy’s scope, ambition, and beauty herald something bigger: the year’s first great album.


Father John Misty’s third album is a beautiful, illuminating masterpiece ... Musically, we’re on pretty familiar territory; a little soulful Jackson Browne, a smidge of acoustic Neil Young and even a touch of piano-tinkling Elton John, as well as a gospel choir thrown into the mix, but this is a record that sets itself apart by virtue of its lyrics.

The Guardian

A great deal of the album’s power comes from the way the bleakness of the lyrics is offset by the lusciousness of the melodies and the comforting familiarity of the sound, with its acoustic guitars and beautifully subtle orchestrations.


Pure Comedy is quite a leap, both lyrically, in being an extended treatise on what it means to be human in 2017 and musically


Pure Comedy lives up to its title. It’s a comedy in every sense of the word. Absurdity is the order of the day. There are jokes around every turn. The central joke being the perfectly dissonant balance of sincerity and sarcasm conveyed by music and lyrics alike.

Slant Magazine

Eschewing I Love You, Honeybear's genre-hopping eclecticism, Pure Comedy's understated arrangements of barebones piano and acoustic guitar ensure the focus remains squarely on Tillman's lyrics and captivating voice.


Pure Comedy is packed with so much meaning and complexity, it feels as overwhelmingly absurd, joyous, curious, tragic, extraordinary and contradictory as life itself.

Under The Radar

Pure Comedy raises the stakes, moving from an already ambitious personal concept album to a wider exploration of what it means to be human. His trademark lyrics remain; full of intimate observation and wry humor, but the scope has blown out of all proportion. In lesser hands it could have become unwieldy and pretentious. Tillman is simply too good for that.


Joshua Tillman has crafted one of the year’s most undoubtedly ambitious albums, melding of-the-moment musings with classicist songwriting. It’s his best work yet.

The Needle Drop

Father John Misty delivers an ambitious and grand statement on the human condition with Pure Comedy, one of 2017's most necessary albums.


It’s a record that is by turns wonderful and frustrating – but for all its ups and downs, one thing remains clear: Josh Tillman has ascended to a new level of songcraft with ‘Pure Comedy’.

Consequence of Sound

Misty’s new album, Pure Comedy, meditates on, and makes the case for, life not being some whimsical comedy of errors, but a tragedy so unbelievable you can’t help but laugh.

Entertainment Weekly

The 75-minute opus is his most boldly experimental and richly produced album to date, with 13 songs that touch on baroque pop, orchestral folk, stark piano balladry, and even gospel.

A.V. Club

The attention-grabbing flamboyance of the Father John Misty mystique is lately proving to be inversely proportional to the actual execution of Tillman’s music. Pure Comedy is a placid, undulating folk record with orchestral flourishes—more precisely, a modern update of mellow AM Gold.

Drowned in Sound

Despite its multitude of sideways glances, Pure Comedy isn’t a contemptuous sneer, rather an attempt to dust oneself off and seek control of a ship that’s destined to sink no matter what.

Loud and Quiet

If ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ was a sarcastic title for a record of hard truths, it’s got nothing on the name ‘Pure Comedy’ – Tillman’s 75-minute slow avalanche of ballads that relentlessly nags at the absurdity of mankind.


Misty keeps this album pretty genuine. There are jaunts and horns and dancing mixed with sorrow and piano and heartache; his lyrics cutting through any joy with wicked humour and his comic persona still second place to his incredible songwriting.

American Songwriter

In this era of easily digested ideas made for short attention spans, Father John Misty challenges his audience to stick with him on a rewarding hour and a quarter slo-mo journey to a sphere that may share a few too many comparisons to ours for comfort.

The Independent

An absorbing, intermittently amusing album.

NOW Magazine

The Tillman of Pure Comedy ... is in full cultural-criticism mode, analyzing politics, celebrity obsession, social media, the environment and the impending doom of humankind. Yes, when stacked next to each other, those themes have a whiff of pretension that will likely rile his detractors. But, after 75 sprawling minutes, Tillman will have fans believing his gospel.


From a certain angle, all this can play like an elaborate stunt ... but there's a strong melancholy undercurrent to Pure Comedy that suggests Father John Misty is something more than a jester. All of this can be felt through the music itself ... and that, more than the verbal gymnastics, is why Pure Comedy delivers upon much of Father John Misty's outlandish promises.

Rolling Stone

What makes this more than glib is a golden-era songwriting craft evidently shaped by Tillman's tenure with Fleet Foxes, and his unsparing self-examination.


‘Pure Comedy’ needs investment. It’s verbose and it aims high and it’s not a record you can stick on in the background while you play Candy Crush. But unplug from this modern game of life just for a little while and it’s a very, very special reward indeed.


For Tillman, Pure Comedy represents a deepening of his artistry, and perhaps, a reaction to the hollowness, the absurdity of success.

Northern Transmissions

There’s something immediately classic about “Pure Comedy” in its mixing of Elton John meets talking about mundane life, with the booming compositional moments to boot.


'Pure Comedy' is a beautiful and foreboding soundtrack for the end of civilisation.


Beneath Pure Comedy’s synth-dappled country, blue-eyed soul, and pop fashioned after George Harrison is a battleground filled with religion, pop culture, technology, and neoliberalism.

The Line of Best Fit

He may only be another album (and/or a few tweets) away from becoming a parody of himself, but for now Pure Comedy is another elongated and extensive example of Misty’s intense outlook on cliché, contradictory and conceived contemporary life.

Spectrum Culture

It’s the musical equivalent of a cold margarita on a hot summer day, refreshing and yet somehow a little sour.


Pure Comedy shoots itself in the foot too many times to become the masterpiece it longs to be, but as a singular document of its creator’s remarkably incisive wit, deep well of pathos, and thorough eye for detail, it’s hard not to fall just a little bit in love with it. Even if you never listen to it again.


It’s just a shame that this only partly inspired slog isn’t a little more, well, entertaining.

The 405

Misty's seemingly constant performance art, the artist as satire, has always threatened to overshadow his actual music, but here it seems whatever humanity Honeybear reeked of has been cloaked in ten layers of defensive discomfort.

FLOOD Magazine

If you took all of his impromptu onstage rants, every antagonistic promotional outing, every sarcastic tweet, and set it to music, you would have all seventy-plus minutes of Pure Comedy.

No Ripcord

One of the most frustrating releases of recent times. Tracks meander insipidly, crushed by the weight of a solipsistic “message” and the real moments of quality only serve as a reminder of what might have been.

God Is in the TV

There’s no variety, no upbeat numbers, no peaks or troughs, not even any virtuoso musicianship to briefly capture the attention. Just 72 minutes of blandness, with Tillman’s verbal diarrhoea smeared all over it.


And to think I used to think this album was boring. This is such a massive artistic statement. I know a lot of people find this album to be a bore, and I can understand why. It drags on a lot. This is an album that is very patient and relaxed. It is heavily focused on melodies and stories. It runs slightly over an hour, and it has songs that may go on as long as 13 minutes. However the crowning achievement of Pure Comedy is its ambition. This is an album that is driven heavily through a ... read more


10 Day Album Swap (w/ @theryanhimself)

Day 2

Father John Misty is a name that I've been wanting to check out for the longest time. And I'm not entirely sure about his other albums, but "Pure Comedy" is a goddamn masterpiece. The political nature of the tracks on here are masterfully written on here, like "Two Wildly Different Perspectives" and "Pure Comedy". Also, production on here is fucking incredible, the awe-inspiring spectacle on tracks like "Leaving ... read more


Shut up, this isn't boring


We live in a society: the album


I was obsessed with this album for like a week, this album is great.


Father John Misty provides an incredible LP with masterful songwriting. His lyrics are intimate and riddled with bitter humour, which only increases the potency of each line he sings, as he effortlessly glides across a selection of picky guitars and piano keys!

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Added on: January 23, 2017