We at Blocland feel my good friend Josh isn’t getting the attention he deserves. So we, Blocland, are taking it upon ourselves to right that horrible wrong. Father John Misty is the single most important artist of this era. Exactly how much soul stirring art does a single man have to create for the OTHER music sites to take notice? Rest assured, dear reader, Blocland notices. But you didn’t come here to read about why Blocland is the most fatherly site on the internet. You came here for that sweet FJM news and reviews. Let’s dig into this veritable smorgasbord!!!
The Blocland Review
Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy”
The album opens with the sound of a gong in the distance. Not too far – kinda close. Let’s call it 4.8 miles. Nay weary traveller. 5 miles. The gong slowly increases in volume until it sounds like it’s being gonged right next to your ear. Then silence. Deafening silence. Father John Misty makes the most noise in this silence.
“You are my listener. I am your guide.” he inaudibly mutters.
The silence plays for 10 more minutes until we reach the conclusion of the first track.
Not since ABBA’s “As Good As New” from the critically panned Voulez-Vous has a first track opened with ten minutes of silence. The ABBA comparisons are numerous and profound. This is no accident. Tillman is a longtime ABBA acolyte and he uses their template in sublime ways. They reveal themselves like the layer of a banana as the album progresses. The metaphor is a powerful one. As the layers of the banana are revealed more banana-ness is revealed. Jesus, a nice Belgian Tripple sounds good right now but I must focus.
It’s with the second track my friend Josh makes his presence fully known. Lightly finger-picked electric guitar comes in as he contemplates his place in the world. He softly croons, “So now I am older than my mother and father/ when they had their daughter/ Now what does that say about me?” This is one of, if not THE, most powerful second-ultimate songs in modern music history. The title alone, “Yngwie Malmsteen’s Leather Britches (The Clock Tolls For Thee)”, lets the listener know they are about to go on an emotional journey that couples the weight of the mid-era works of John-Paul Sartre with the steely determination of a coked-out Bret Michaels. It’s an alchemy that delivers on its substantial promise. Only Tillman could pack this much emotion in a thirty-seven second song. You might question if all of that power feels rushed in a thirty-seven second song. Valid concern, dear reader. In the hands of a lesser artist it would almost assuredly feel “busy”. But in the hands of the master, FJM, IT WORKS!
Being the master craftsman that he is, my dear friend Josh pulls back on track three. Guest dueling harpists Joanna Newsom and her wife Andy Samberg open the song with deft intertwined harping. “I Might Be Making This Up” has begun. If this opus has a sleeper this is most certainly it. Only Tillman would have the audacity to write, “I don’t know what you mean/I don’t even like biscuits/This love has gone stale and cold/At times I just want to quits it.” If the irony of the song is lost on the listener it is surely due to the irony of listeners listening while the singer sings the songs that need to be listened to. But one thing is for certain, bringing in the Newsom Twosom is genius. IT WORKS!
Track 4, “For Whom The Sippy Cup Spills”, is the start of the 3 song run that makes up the core of the entire album. Utilizing guitar savant Steve Vai, on loan from Anthony Gonzalez, to open the track with a 17:47 second solo is unnerving, unnecessary, and brilliant. At one point Vai’s guitar sounds like, “deedle deedle doodle wee weep wee doodle doo-duuuuuuuuul, darp tweet doodle deep wee wee WEE.” I know, I thought the same thing. When the opening solo begins to fade and my dearest of all friends FJM whispers, “Yeah, put it INSIDE there,” I defy you to not openly weep. Why FJM cedes the lead vocal on the track to Vai after that opening lyric is a question that will be asked by scholars and laymen for decades. Vai simply cannot sing. There’s no gentle way to put it. However, his absolute tone-deaf and deadpan voice WORKS here. Tillman’s choice to relinquish lead vocals so he can be the vocalist that doesn’t vocalize works on multiple levels. In a complete unexpected twist, Samberg returns on this track only to shout “Snorgie Borg!” to close the track. Stupid, yet genius.
Track 4a, “The Revenge Of Sippy Cup (Slight Return)”, reminds us that my closest and best friend Josh understands the concept of trilogies. Vai has exited. Enter Eddie Van Halen. “Same fucking thing,” you might scream at the top of your lungs until blood drips down your esophagus. Ohhhhhh no, dear listener. Where Vai informs us, “deedle deedle doodle wee weep wee doodle doo-duuuuuuuuul, darp tweet doodle deep wee wee WEE,” Mr. Van Halen retorts with, “deedle deedle doodle wee weep wee doodle doo-duuuuuuuuul, darp tweet doodle deep wee wee WEE deedle deedle deedle.” It’s that last trio of deedles that makes the heart, as The xx might say, skip a beat. This is the most powerful song insofar as lyrical content on the album. I would cite lyrics to you here, dear reader, but my almost painfully dear friend Josh sings this entire song in Dangme, an African language spoken in Greater Accra, in south-east Ghana and Togo. There is simply no reason for Josh to make this artistic decision. But not unlike all the choices on this masterwork…it fucking WORKS! Will it “Work” to the tune of 652,444,333 plays (and counting) on Spotify like Rihanna’s “Work”? Rest assured the answer is surely no. Don’t be a fucking idiot.
Track 6, “I’m All Grows’ed Up (Fuck Yo Cup)” completes the mini trilogy. Gone are the guest musicians. It’s my friend to the grave Josh alone here. In an album of monstrous moments, this is the subtle number. The one that makes you think, “I think I’ll paint the walls beige.” Tillman pulls out all the lyrical stops: “Baby don’t ever leave me/ You’re the only creature for me/ Can you at least stay/ And finish up the ravioli?” Whew. ROUGH. Is my pally-pal Josh alluding to how quickly love fades by commenting that his lover can’t even stay until the damn ravioli is done? They only take 90 seconds to boil! Is this a commentary on love, in general? Will beige work with orange? I digress… this stylistic choice… well… damn… IT WORKS!
Have you made it this far dear reader? Congratulations if you have. Fuck you if you scrolled and stopped here. Go ahead and take a break for a minute and check out your phone or order a Pizza Hut Pizza. There is plenty more review below so take full advantage of this intermission. There is no return.
“But now my blood is an ocean/ Drowning me from within.”
Never one to skimp out on track 7 (a.k.a. the God track), my good friend Josh (who once wrote, “K.A.T.S. BFF!” in my high school yearbook) pens another illuminated song on: “Colors Be Colliden’”. My dear friend assumes the temporary appellation “Roy G. Biv” to best vocalize the feelings of each individual color on the rainbow spectrum. Thoughts of beige melt away like wet paint as “Roy” sings with the power of a sunrise, “My red blood drips into your orange juice/ You said it tasted like sunshine.” What follows can best be described as a banjo solo, except the banjo had previously been inhaling S.A.G.E. marijuana in a smoker’s circle with the failing careers of Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and the lesser known son of Bob Marley, Rohan. As my unborn son’s future godfather Josh steps back to the microphone, siphoning the soul of the lesser colors on the spectrum, he sighs, “But now my blood is an ocean/ Drowning me from within.” Leave it to FJM to actually record these final lyrics underwater in a head-sized aquarium, a stylistic nod to Thom Yorke in the “No Surprises” music video, no doubt.
Track 8. Oh my, Track 8. There’s no way to soften the blow here. For Track 8 my BFF Josh has simply taken the William Shatner cover of the Elton John classic “Rocket Man” and inserted it on his album. I’ve listened to this 47 times and have yet to pick up a single musical idea FJM has inserted that changes the original Captain Kirk cut. There might be a theremin at the 1:57 mark but I genuinely think I’m just WANTING to hear a difference. I don’t know how the legality works for something this blatant. Does Gene Roddenberry get a piece of the action? Again, I simply do not know. Now, assuming FJM has simply placed the already existing piece of music, note for note, on his album. Gott Dammit IT WORKS here!
Track 9 takes a turn to the lighter side of my com-padre FJM’s persona. It’s a delightful little ditty titled, “Yeah, Dumbass, Those Are My LaCoste Flip Flops”. This is a track best heard before the listener reads too much about it. Suffice it to say, lyrical Easter eggs abound. Again, giving away too much here would be unconscionable but I would be remiss if I didn’t drop a quick teaser and tell you, dear reader, that my bestie Josh rhymes “Dead Fucking Last” with “Conde Nast”. Oh hells yes that WORKS! [Ed. Note: If you are of the average intelligence of a Blocland reader you probably haven’t noticed that Blochead is trying to add the catchphrase “It works” to his brand. It’s not the best but it works.]
Next up is “Track 27; Or Explanation of the Mating Habits of the Greater Canadian Goose”. Lucky for us, it’s exactly what it sounds like. My number one since day one, Josh, with his encyclopedic knowledge on these exquisite little creatures, gives us an incredibly thorough explanation of what is to be known of their mating habits. The track is set to a light drone and features sparse jaw harp plucks when things really start to heat up. After an informative 17 minutes and 35 seconds, things ain’t done yet. The drone breaks up and the jaw harp disappears.
My partner in crime, my confidant, my best friend, Josh, is keen to keep the feature off the track list. “Why ruin a surprise?” is what he tells me every night over the phone. We should be grateful. None other than YG springs into action. If you’re anything like me, by now you’ll be thinking, “Gee whiz, I could really go for some hardened street raps right about now!” Who better than YG to pull that off? The only thing is, the roles are reversed in this scenario.
Yes, YG takes on the role of the golden voiced crooner with a wit you can sink your teeth into. Big Papa John Misty, picks up the mic to hit us with some street-wise tough talk.
And them bars is lit as fuck, fam! He then gives us the unabridged Father John Misty origin story. He paints an incredibly vivid and harrowing portrait of what it was like coming up as a young boy working his way through the Compton rap battles. Of course, he had bigger dreams that talking trash and gang-banging weren’t going to offer.
By now you may be thinking: “Wait I thought we were dealing with Father John Misty the goose expert, not Father John Misty the hard nosed street tough!” But what if I told you, dear reader, they’re one in the same! Yes, the good father gives us a good hard look at the two sides that make up the proverbial coin that is Father John Misty. Listen and become familiar with the Josh Tillman that I’ve grown to know so well and you’ve been dying to be acquainted with. The whole experience can only be described as kafkaesque. It shouldn’t work but guess what? IT WORKS!
That brings us to Track #QV. Bosom buddy Josh doesn’t explain exactly why it’s QV and not a numerical designation, but fuck me if it doesn’t WORK as an ironic statement. What are numbers and letters anyway? Another way for a broken caste system to divide us? Josh seems to be telling us to shed those shackles and think for ourselves. This track is titled, “It’s Just A F’ing Song, Bloc. Don’t Make Everything Into Another Bloc Moment”. I must tell you, dear reader, it’s little literary butterfly kisses like this from FJM to me that makes me wish the rest of you could see him, nay KNOW him, the way I do. To see what a gentle and giving soul he is. That behind the snark, cynicism, and hyper-irony, there’s a man that touches people in the kindest ways. His soft voice, delicate hands, firm torso…[Ed. Note: Content removed. Tagged as too graphic.]
This is a really good album and it works.
Credit: Blochead, RaptorJesus, Lobsterman and Doris