New albums from Father John Misty and Car Seat Headrest.


Pure Comedy, Father John Misty.

Pure Com­e­dy, Father John Misty.

Pure Com­e­dy is the lat­est album from Father John Misty and it’s as pro­found­ly dis­ap­point­ing as his pre­vi­ous release was impres­sive. And it’s not hard to see what’s happened.

The penul­ti­mate track on that last album, I Love You, Hon­ey­bear, reviewed here, is the melo­di­ous “Holy Shit”. There, he briefly name-checks many of the Big Issues bar­ing down upon us in these our oh so uncer­tain times, before breezi­ly dis­miss­ing them to ask disin­gen­u­ous­ly what any of them have to do with all the real­ly impor­tant stuff that he has to deal with.

It’s impos­si­ble to decide whether he’s being entire­ly seri­ous, dead­pan or a bit of both. Which is what gives the song its charm. And it’s all too easy to imag­ine what’s hap­pened in the interim.

On the one hand, the com­mer­cial suc­cess and crit­i­cal acclaim that that pre­vi­ous album enjoyed mean that the last cou­ple of years must have been a rel­a­tive­ly hap­py time to be Mr. Josh Till­man. And, as fans of Dylan, Shake­speare and pret­ty much any artist who has ever lived will know, noth­ing is as cre­ative­ly stul­ti­fy­ing as per­son­al hap­pi­ness, how­ev­er briefly endured.

The said culprit.

The said culprit.

And on the oth­er, he’s clear­ly begun to believe some of the hype sur­round­ing his prowess as an appar­ent­ly thought-pro­vok­ing lyricist.

So that the new album sees him mus­ing almost exclu­sive­ly on those big, heavy themes which were briefly touched upon in “Holy Shit”. Only now, far from wry­ly acknowl­edg­ing his own igno­rance on any of them, he seems to imag­ine that he’s sud­den­ly become some­thing of a sage, and any sense of irony has been sum­mar­i­ly dis­missed. What’s worse, his mel­liflu­ous voice, impec­ca­ble dic­tion and regal sense of melody mean that it’s quite impos­si­ble to escape all of those dread­ful lyrics.

Imag­ine Mar­tin from the Simp­sons being set as his home­work the task of pro­duc­ing a set of lyrics designed to impress the grown ups. This is what his first draft would have looked like. Not that he’d have ever actu­al­ly shown them to any­one, obviously.

Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Denial.

Car Seat Head­rest, Teens of Denial.

I stu­dious­ly avoid­ed the lat­est Car Seat Head­rest album, Teens of Denial. The boys from All Songs Con­sid­ered, reviewed here, have been so effu­sive about it these last few months that I’d been thor­ough­ly put off and was qui­et­ly hop­ing to be able to casu­al­ly dis­miss it. There’s a thin line that sep­a­rates infec­tious enthu­si­asm from irri­tat­ing insis­tence. So I’m delight­ed to be able to report that they were right and I was wrong. It real­ly is that good.

There’s a pal­pa­ble air of ear­ly Beck waft­ing from the tracks col­lect­ed here. He inhab­its a very sim­i­lar per­sona to the one that Beck adopt­ed way back when, as a guile­less slack­er drift­ing direc­tion­less like Pound’s hedo­nist bereft of pur­pose, to the tune of a post-punk, new-grunge musi­cal backdrop.

The main man ,Beck.

The main man, Beck.

But as with Beck, the son­ic land­scape is infi­nite­ly more com­plex than it first appears, and you quick­ly find your­self dis­ap­pear­ing from the song’s casu­al sur­faces into the murky depths below. All of which results in a seri­ous album, from one of the most excit­ing new artists to emerge for many a moon.

You can see the video for “Vin­cent”, track 2 from Teens of Denial here

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