Once hidden behind center stage as the drummer of prominent indie folk outfit Fleet Foxes, J. Tillman (better known by his moniker Father John Misty) has emerged over the years as a much-needed social critic in the musical world.
On his latest offering, “Total Entertainment Forever,” the outspoken folk star shares his view on the growing dependence we have on entertainment. Backed by a crisp acoustic guitar, triumphant keys, and a bellowing horn section, Father John Misty wastes no time getting into the nitty-gritty of his darkest thoughts.
He howls “Bedding Taylor Swift/Every night inside the Oculus Rift,” at the very start of the song, and even though the high-strung ballad simmers down some following the heated intro, Tillman doesn’t stop firing criticism at the state of humanity. After a brief fusion of poignant “oohs” and wistful saxophone, the nearly three-minute ditty ends with virtual reality becoming the cure for our hellish reality. “In the New Age we'll all be entertained/Rich or poor, the channels are all the same,” he croons with a tinge of wistful regret.
Debuted this past weekend during his Saturday Night Live performance, the unexpected opening lyrics instantly drew comparisons to Kanye West’s infamous “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex” line from his Life of Pablo cut “Famous”. But Father John Misty was quick to defend the meaning behind his vaguely construed words.
“The fact of the matter is, I don’t want that to happen to Taylor Swift. That is the worst thing I can think of; that is so horrible. But again, this plays into progress, where like, the internet was supposed to be this new democracy, a utopia of information where everyone had a voice and we were all interconnected, and we would experience true democracy—and it turned into pornography, followed only by outrage,” he told Exclaim! the day after SNL aired.
Though he’s always had a knack for satirically scolding human civilization and its dependence on entertainment, “Total Entertainment Forever” hints that Father John is taking his criticism to an entirely new level in his upcoming album Pure Comedy, due out April 7, via Sub Pop/Bella Union.