Father John Misty, the sarcastic, cynical musician behind the 2015 hit “Bored in the USA,” has never been one to shy away from social commentary. But his third album, released on Friday, pushes it to another level. Pure Comedy is chock-full of biting critiques on religion, idolatry, and politics, and is accompanied by videos featuring clips of Donald Trump’s inauguration and children playing with guns.
Though the artist has sung about capitalism and the fragility of society before, this LP has a clearer focus than before: It’s a protest album through and through — albeit in the self-righteous, slightly pretentious way only Misty can deliver. With track titles like “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” and “Two Wildly Different Perspectives,” and lyrics lambasting “elected goons” and climate change, he takes direct aim at the state of politics, the environment, and religious fanaticism.
Misty isn’t the only musician making protest music, nor is he the first. Far from it. Protest music has always been an essential form of political expression in America, and at times of political and social unrest, it becomes a crucial refuge — both for musicians, as a release valve for their frustrations and convictions, and for listeners in need of a rallying cry.
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