Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:10 Release Date:2016-03-18

“I’m gonna break into your heart/ I’m gonna crawl under your skin,” croons the 68-year-old Iggy Pop at the outset of his 17th and latest solo release, Post Pop Depression. The minimalistic guitar accents each line with a snaky note-bending slither, hypnotizing me to look beyond the obvious absurdity of that opening couplet. Iggy knows as well as I that he’s already in and under and, at his age, he no longer needs to be concerned about new conquests. Still, it’s flattering just the same to not be taken for granted.

Working with Queens of the Stone Age main guy Josh Homme (producer and co-writer) as well as fellow Queens’ musician Dean Fertita and Artic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders, Pop flourishes. Rarely has a sixty-something performer not named David Bowie sounded as fresh and vital as Iggy Pop does here. Working on the album was said to be cathartic for Homme after the Paris terrorist attack, while Pop views the album as a reflection of his relevance and legacy. It’s more proof that Pop, who along with his longtime friend and collaborator Bowie released contemplative albums in this tragic year of musical loss, is now the elder statesmen of truly unique rock artists. While I dearly love The Rolling Stones and many other geezer rockers, they aren’t recording songs with the emotional power and intelligence found on “Black Star” or “Post Pop Depression.”

Given that Iggy Pop has passed through a variety of styles in his long career, it’s fair if facile to lump “Post Pop Depression” in the Bowie era (more “Lust for Life” than “The Idiot”), but also reminds me of what The Doors might have released if Jim was still staking claim to the Lizard Kingdom. In short, it’s mystical, poetic, and haunting, but not so esoteric as to be inaccessible. This album rocks.

“American Valhalla” has a vibraphone driven melody line and a thumping bass-cum-Eastern sound to it along with some gloriously American lyrics: “I’m looking for American Valhalla, so if it passes by, give me a holler.” Initial single “Gardenia” has a looping synth, playful bass lines, and a chorus that is a tip of the hat to his recently passed friend. In fact, if you close your eyes, you can totally envision David Bowie singing vocals. It’s lovely even as it opens up old wounds not yet healed. “German Days” has a catchy hook (on an album chock full of them) which provides Iggy with a stage to crawl atop and groan, “Berlin and Christ, champagne and ice” before it swirls into a near waltz-like midsection before returning to the hook.

Acoustic guitar accompanies Iggy croaking out his creepy poetry in “Vulture,” which adds a spaghetti western vibe complete with tolling bells and the requisite trebly riff. “Chocolate Drops” is accented with old school soul background vocals to create a sexy yet bleak sound.  Two songs have a menacing undercurrent; “In the Lobby” which hints at a weariness towards the business of the rock life, “And it’s all about the kicks…the dancing pricks…the clowns...” and closer “Paraguay,” with Pop delivering a slow boiling rant over the coda (“You take their motherfucking laptops, just shove it into your goddamn foul mouths, down your shit-heeled gizzard, you fucking phony”).

While it’s hard to make the call amidst all of these great numbers, “Sunday” is my current favorite. It features a lilting, near-calypso rhythm, angelic female backing vocals, funky interwoven guitars riffing one atop the other, and a superb take by Pop, punctuated with a stringed orchestra outro that is the cherry on this masterful song.  

“Post Pop Depression” is an early Top Ten Album of the Year candidate for 2016 and, if it’s the swan song he’s intimated it to be in interviews, it’s a brilliant one. 

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