Father John Misty is as close as music can get to cleansing, shamanic-drugged spiritual revelation. His work has progressively pondered and snaked its way through all the commentary: social, spiritual, cultural, psychological. “Generic Pop Song #3” is a psalm in the book of FJM, full of laser specificity but also universal in its scope. A man has lost his faith; a man is spending to much time drinking; a man wants to deny moral deism but where should he turn. “Oh I’m no faithful servant no more, no more hands to the sky, no more knees on the floor,” he cries out in acute falsetto agony. This is a hymn, a thumping song of praise, praise for the only thing he has left, his love. The kind of radical love that even after being devoured and spent broke, one still believes, and in that is some purpose. Yes, it is devoid of responsibility or respect, yet still a sense of meaning, of self.
With “Generic Pop Song #9, he is teetering on a precipice, yet there he is, with his love, dancing. This is his “Drunk in Love,” the rapturous love song luxuriating in the inebriation of desire. He knows that she’s crazy and he is an enabler but he understands her. He wants her. He loves. It’s pure and it’s deadly, the beat builds until it drops and bounces about, distorted, slightly dissonant, and dizzying with desire. “Brighter then we burn, brighter then we burn, brighter then…I’m not going out to the whole world shouting damn this girl is crazy but I know what she’s about.” Father John refuses to come out and shout these sentiments then just does that. It’s urgent, it’s what he must share, and of course it sounds nothing like what you expect or want to hear as the layfan.
But the come down is always inevitable and thus we get a denoument in the form of “Generic Pop Song #16.” One really gets the sense of rhythm and blues by the time Father John starts crooning about the epic hangover that is caring for someone who’s burnt the candle too brightly at both ends. He wants to go back to the beginning, he wants to see lucidly what was about to happen, who he was looking at. Hindsight is 20/20, however, and so here he is devoured by love, dreaming of the impossible. The track is almost an homage to the Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, the backbone beat, the soulfulness, the notion that someone could be so purely intoxicating that the destruction of everything else all around would not even matter. Even in its more generic form, love can still be a deadly drug or form of faith. Pure Comedy comes out April 7 via Sub Pop/Bella Union.