• Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: Apr 7, 2017
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
Buy On
  1. Apr 6, 2017
    100
    There’s something hugely impressive about coming up with an album that somehow manages to be both incredibly discomfiting and easy to listen to.
  2. 100
    A powerful piece of work, but one that will leave you with as many questions as it does answers.
  3. 100
    Pure Comedy’s scope, ambition, and beauty herald something bigger: the year’s first great album.
  4. Apr 3, 2017
    100
    He embraces the role, plays up to it, uses it to bend and manipulate the parameters of modern rock music and has managed to create something bitingly acerbic and cynical, yet achingly sincere. Again.
  5. Mar 31, 2017
    100
    It works because it’s so astonishingly, genuinely clever.
  6. Mar 29, 2017
    100
    Pure Comedy is quite some trip and one that lifts Father John Misty to another level altogether. [May 2017, p.93]
  7. Apr 5, 2017
    92
    This is a big-idea album in a way none of his work was before.
  8. Apr 6, 2017
    90
    Rather than rest on his laurels or deliver a bigger and better sequel, Tillman has instead created an album that covers a wider variety of subject matter with more focused and rich songwriting.
  9. Apr 5, 2017
    90
    Pure Comedy is big and clever, and oh so very brilliant.
  10. Apr 3, 2017
    90
    Pure Comedy is packed with so much meaning and complexity, it feels as overwhelmingly absurd, joyous, curious, tragic, extraordinary and contradictory as life itself.
  11. Mar 29, 2017
    90
    It's something of a miracle, too, that he's managed to wring such beauty and profundity out of the mess of a society he sings about.
  12. Apr 7, 2017
    83
    Pure Comedy excels when Tillman trains his observant side-eye on smaller targets as well.
  13. 83
    On Pure Comedy, Father John Misty is just about clever enough to glide entirely on his intellectualism, but by emotionally removing himself from his own narratives, he’s ended up making a record that’s smarter than it is affecting.
  14. 83
    The album spins best when Misty is picking a fight with God or observing human nature as a screwball play, all while honoring the fact that people were given a raw deal in concept, not just execution.
  15. Apr 7, 2017
    80
    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.
  16. Apr 6, 2017
    80
    Pure Comedy is indeed a very grand record, an old-fashioned major statement designed to evoke memories of classic long-players from the '70s. Often, its stately march and decorated pianos call to mind early Elton John, suggesting the hazy vistas of Madman Across the Water.
  17. Apr 6, 2017
    80
    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.
  18. 80
    The music stays cozy, supportive and unobtrusively inventive, placing luminous details behind Mr. Tillman’s sympathetic, ever melodic voice.
  19. Apr 5, 2017
    80
    No doubt some of the album feels overly sanctimonious. ... And yet Tillman’s prophetic songwriting makes Pure Comedy one of the first--and best--post-Trump albums in what’s sure to be a long line over the next four years.
  20. 80
    There is no rock here, although the prog nature of the music incorporates those influences, yet the album never feels bloated or one-note.
  21. 80
    An absorbing, intermittently amusing album.
  22. Apr 4, 2017
    80
    Despite the running time, it should be noted that Pure Comedy moves at a clip; only ‘The Memo’ and its cold boardroom-speak textures belabour the narrative a little too much on a record that’s all about stretching out an exact, unwavering thread.
  23. Apr 4, 2017
    80
    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.
  24. Q Magazine
    Mar 29, 2017
    80
    Despite th[e] bleakness, Pure Comedy is delivered with wit and warmth, and redeemed by the tiniest twinkle of light. [May 2017, p.110]
  25. Uncut
    Mar 29, 2017
    80
    Overall, it's a long, strange ride, and Joshua judges ruefully. [May 2017, p.18]
  26. Apr 7, 2017
    76
    After that opening suite--“Pure Comedy,” “Total Entertainment Forever,” and “Revolution”--the music settles into a tonal plateau. Even the most gripping songs unspool with acoustic leisure, and they can be long and lofty trips.
  27. 75
    For now Pure Comedy is another elongated and extensive example of Misty’s intense outlook on cliché, contradictory and conceived contemporary life. If misunderstood, it’s easy to believe that the signified still signifies the signifier, but call Pure Comedy boring at your peril.
  28. Magnet
    Apr 14, 2017
    70
    Tillman wisely scales back the orchestration and flourishes to their bare minimum in order to put his voice and lyrics at the forefront. [No. 141, p.54]
  29. Apr 5, 2017
    62
    Pure Comedy is definitively a headphone album; where I Love You, Honeybear made you swoon with its overt eclecticism, the gems here need to be unearthed after a few excavations. The album’s pacing does not help matters, burdened with a middle section that dares you to fall asleep and counts on a deep love of Tillman’s voice.
  30. Apr 18, 2017
    60
    To be sure, his willingness to descend into darkness, both regarding the world and within himself, is a large part of the man's appeal, but here he seems to have misunderstood, or simply ignored, what makes him truly great.
  31. Apr 14, 2017
    60
    In the end, Pure Comedy isn’t anything close to the laugh fest the title implies, but it does provoke a deeper reaction regardless.
  32. Apr 10, 2017
    60
    There are moments here that are truly affecting, like the vignette anchoring Leaving LA, the album’s 13-minute centrepiece. The young Josh chokes on a sweet, as Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies plays impassively in the background. You wish you could hear more from him.
  33. Apr 7, 2017
    60
    Pure Comedy (or, I would say, Tillman in general) doesn’t suffer for its big ideas, it thrives on them; the real problem is the constant circling and underlining and pointing out those big ideas when just letting them sit and mystify in their black hole weightiness would do.
  34. Apr 7, 2017
    60
    It’s true that he’s certainly earned the right to pursue his artistic vision. It’s just a shame that this only partly inspired slog isn’t a little more, well, entertaining.
  35. Apr 6, 2017
    60
    He’s not really in a fun mood, and the music follows. The lushness has diminished, and the work evokes increasing comparisons to ‘70s singer-songwriters like Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, who hid their acidic commentary within sturdy pop structures.
  36. Apr 28, 2017
    40
    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.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 254 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 30 out of 254
  1. Apr 10, 2017
    1
    I was looking forward to this as "Ballad of the Dying Man" was actually a really good song but as the new singles kept rolling out, myI was looking forward to this as "Ballad of the Dying Man" was actually a really good song but as the new singles kept rolling out, my expectations vaporized. Each song sounded just like the one before it and the lyrical content is absolutely vomit and cringe worthy. I loved Fear Fun and Honeybear. I get it, he's always been full of himself and he always will be, but at least those albums were entertaining. This album is like a flatline from beginning to end. There is no pulse, there is no diversity, there is no personality. Can't even fathom the high critic score. This album will age very poorly, and not just because I don't like it, but because it's just commentary on 2016 basically. I just don't see how anyone can enjoy this. Listen to something else instead unless you want to hear moaning bad lyrics over poorly done minimalism. I cannot explain how bad this album is. Such a snooze fest and don't even get me started on "Leaving LA." Quite possibly the worst song I've ever heard. I just have nothing good to say about this album so I'll leave it here. Full Review »
  2. Apr 7, 2017
    4
    Everyone who is heralding this as the best album of the year is probably too young to remember Dan Fogelberg, a man who embodied 70's and 80'sEveryone who is heralding this as the best album of the year is probably too young to remember Dan Fogelberg, a man who embodied 70's and 80's camp, with his simple piano licks and suave, lady-wooing tenor. Music like this is usually deeply embraced at first, then seen down the road as a lame phase you went through. It's missing instrumental and lyrical risks. When many of you agree with me later in life, I won't hold it against you. I used to listen to Bryan Adams. Full Review »
  3. Apr 7, 2017
    10
    Pure Comedy is the kind of album that makes you feel like a piece of **** for being a human being, but at the end of listening you're gladPure Comedy is the kind of album that makes you feel like a piece of **** for being a human being, but at the end of listening you're glad you're not anything else. Full Review »