Father John Misty’s new album “Pure Comedy.” Courtesy.

On the fourth track of his debut album, “Fear Fun,” Father John Misty croons, “I’ll never leave the canyon, ’cause I’m sur­rounded on all sides / By people writing novels and living on amusement rides.”

With his latest release “Pure Comedy,” he is still lan­guishing in the canyon, but he has gotten some per­spective on what is really at stake in the insidious enter­tainment complex of popular culture.

Father John Misty, the alias of former Fleet Foxes per­cus­sionist and solo artist Josh Tillman, has released three albums over the course of five years. During this half-decade, he has become one of the most divisive figures in indie music. He is reviled by those who see him as a pedantic and ironic “hipster,” and he is lauded by those who con­sider him a self-aware post­modern prophet.

With his first two releases, he wore two notable hats: the sar­donic wit and the honest romantic. On record, he kept his sarcasm and ten­derness sep­arate. “Fear Fun”’s moments of romantic self-expression (namely “O I Long To Feel Your Arms Around Me” and “Everyman Needs A Com­panion)” are mas­querades for cynical com­mentary on popular atti­tudes towards love. His 2015 sophomore album, “I Love You Hon­eybear,” is uncom­pro­mis­ingly con­cerned with how Tillman can show “true affection.” In the downtime after the second album, he engaged in several on- and off-stage shenanigans: cov­ering Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in the style of the Velvet Under­ground on YouTube, stealing crystals from a bou­tique shop in Los Angeles, and ranting at a New Jersey music fes­tival for 15 minutes about the Repub­lican Con­vention.

All of this served as build-up, in the minds of Father John Misty fans, for a third album that would be as asinine as an artist — who appears shirtless and drowning in the music video for Lana Del Rey’s “Freak” and smokes all-natural American Spirit cig­a­rettes reli­giously — could pos­sibly produce. But when “Pure Comedy” was released on April 7, fans received a very dif­ferent form of “enter­tainment”: a fatal­istic dia­tribe against hyp­o­critical fig­ure­heads. In reality, Tillman pro­claims, the comedy of human error and bad luck stops for no one.

It seems that this was the balladeer’s goal all along. According to a lengthy essay sent to his fan club that served as an announcement for the album, Tillman reveals that the album is a story about a “species” whose “brains prove to be remarkably good at inventing meaning where there is none.” The opening title track reveals further that this species is man, as Tillman sings, “The comedy of man starts like this / Our brains are way too big for our mothers’ hips.” From there, he lays out all manner of ways in which humans provoke them­selves to suf­fering: by letting tyrants rule them, sub­mitting to an orga­nized religion, and rejecting the love of another person. The only recourse in life is the sheer acknowl­edgement that it is as vacuous as we think it may be: “And what’s to regret / For a speck on a speck on a speck / Made more ridiculous the more serious he gets?”

The waxy vinyl sound of “Birdie,” the soaring string section of “Two Wildly Dif­ferent Per­spec­tives” and “In Twenty Years Or So,” and the melo­dra­matic piano of “When The God Of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay” all combine to form a “lis­tenable” album. Enter­tainment, strictly speaking, it is not; every song is chock-full of attacks on politi­cians and reli­gious fanatics, and the album is punc­tuated by two songs exceeding ten minutes each. A front-to-back listen leaves the lis­tener winded, not only because it is a 75-minute album, but because it forces the lis­tener to con­front their envi­ronment. It even forces the lis­tener to con­front the device they are using to listen to Father John Misty’s latest release, while they are busy “bedding Taylor Swift / Every night inside the Oculus Rift.”

“Pure Comedy” is in no way a retread of pre­vious albums, though the thread of ennui that runs throughout was first laid by Tillman on “Bored In The USA.” It is a project removed from the Father John Misty char­acter almost entirely — there is no facade of irony which dis­tances the singer from his audience.

“Total Enter­tainment Forever” pro­claims that there are “No gods to rule us / No drugs to soothe us / No myths to prove stuff / No love to confuse us” — and that this is the con­sum­mation of all enter­tainment. While the Father John Misty moniker play­fully poked fun at the absurdity of con­sumer culture on pre­vious albums, this record is Tillman’s most unfil­tered and sincere response to cul­tural vapidity yet. The album’s grandiose approach does not produce an alien­ating effect, placing Tillman high above the masses. On the con­trary, it is pro­foundly human and rela­tional. When Tillman sings about “dancing ’round the flames” of an America in upheaval like “a king on cocaine,” he is giving the most vis­ceral account he can of his expe­rience as a frus­trated citizen. In one of the more subdued moments on the album, “The Memo,” he lays bare the daily routine of any well-groomed citizen: “Oh, caf­feine in the morning, alcohol at night / Cameras to record you and mirrors to rec­ognize.”

There is no pre­tense to “Pure Comedy” — it cannot present itself pre­ten­tiously. What is so inane and yet so important as self-reflection? Tillman has broken from the persona he imposed upon his earlier music, and with both hands free from ego-stroking, he holds the mirror up to his audience. Alongside this judgment, however, he offers a final con­so­lation in “In Twenty Years Or So” that — with the under­standing that human exis­tence is simple, ordinary, and ter­rible — the lis­tener and Tillman himself can tran­scend life’s absurdity: “There’s nothing to fear.”