"Basically, I think that the culture needs to deal with this smug, ironic white-guy thing. It's like liberals have now whittled down and self-perverted to nothing. You're not allowed to be," said Father John Misty in a Pitchfork interview leading up to the release of his album Pure Comedy.

The quote was in regards to Misty's critics, and how he receives that criticism. I had to read it a few times, mostly trying to figure out what this "smug, ironic white-guy thing" was referring to. Was Misty the white-guy, or was he holding up a straw man white-guy as his imagined liberal critic?

I backed up a few lines, to where Misty says, "I'm sorry, but if you are reading music blogs and tweeting about people like me, then there is no meaningful distinction between that person and me." This only furthered my confusion. So the smug white guy is the critic, and the smug white guy is Father John Misty? And this smug white guy critic/artist is not allowed to be?

What I got out of this convoluted old-man-yells-at-cloud exchange is that Misty feels persecuted in the role of Important Artist and Social Commentator, torn down by the criticisms of his very own smug white guy liberal tribe. Never mind that "the culture" consists of, and one could easily argue is driven by, groups outside of this liberal white-guy tribe. Never mind that those groups would likely have a lot more to critique about Misty's sexist, elitist provocations than his liberal white-guy tribe. It's just that perhaps those groups have better things to do than listen to another White Guy With Opinions complain about the persecution of his opinions. Perhaps.

And I would imagine those groups have better things to do than listen to the 75-minute Podcast from the Apocalypse that is Pure Comedy, a boring, occasionally beautiful, boring album chronicling society's ills and its impending doom. By sheer length and monotony, this album seems like a statement of importance, as it expects the listener to endure the album's swaths of monotony to appreciate its fragments of insight. This becomes especially hard to do when every other tweetstorm and article I encounter online is predicting the end of the world; what makes this album any different?

Perhaps it is because I have been conditioned to numbly scan through Misty's various soundbites and troll moves in my newsfeed, but I also found myself numbly scanning through his album. He is a smart guy and his reflections on culture and self are relentless and often interesting, but sonically the album rarely changes tempo or tone. This has the unfortunate effect of letting even his best lyrics fall into the acoustic sinkhole that this album slowly becomes.

Maybe I'm being too harsh. After reading enough Misty interviews, one becomes prone to hyperbole. This album does have some gorgeous moments, particularly at the end of 'Ballad of the Dying Man', when Misty's falsetto is joined by a swelling chorus. The album's central tension relies in how Misty finds so many flaws in himself and humanity, but that ultimately, we are our only hope. In this moment, in which Misty allows other voices into his world, he shows how this hope can emerge.

Pure Comedy closes with the lines:

"Oh, I read somewhere/ That in twenty years/ More or less/ This human experiment will reach its violent end/ But I look at you/ As our second drinks arrive/ The piano player's playing 'This Must Be the Place'/ And it's a miracle to be alive."

Here, Misty beautifully sketches a scene in which companionship, and music, allow for him to momentarily transcend his anxieties. Briefly, we see that beneath his cynicism lies a stolid belief in music's capacity to change people. After all, without that belief, Misty wouldn't go to such efforts to criticise the industry and craft his work.

However beautiful it may be, this verse is also a reminder that Pure Comedy rarely, if ever, reaches such transcendence. It aims to find beauty within the morass of hopelessness but ultimately is more successful as a diligent chronicle of hopelessness. It aims for David Foster Wallace and arrives at Jonathan Franzen, which I think is a pretentious comparison that the Father himself would appreciate.

I would imagine that Father John Misty has anticipated all of the criticisms I've raised here, which makes experiencing Pure Comedy an especially tiresome experience. Given that he approaches his persona and work from the perspective of tomorrow's thinkpiece, it becomes sort of pointless to engage. Misty seems to subsist on this engagement with criticism but doesn't seem to take much joy in it. This seems to be the tone of Pure Comedy; an album subsisting on analysis but unsure where to go from there, a piece of work that doesn't know how to just be.

Pure Comedy is out now. You can stream it over here.