Iggy Pop “Post Pop Depression” Review

(Photo Credit: www.xsmanchester.co.uk)

Iggy Pop’s supposed final album was recorded amidst tragedies – but not even that can slow him down.

Let’s be real for a second, Iggy Pop’s days of relevancy are not years, but decades behind him. We know from this from the disastrous reviews given to the two Stooges reunion albums. We know this from him no longer being the most famous “Iggy” in music (although the “Iggy” in Iggy Azalea was inspired by Pop). He knows this, that’s why he would record an album like “Post Pop Depression.” The title sums the album up succinctly – he’s looking forwards, to an Iggy Pop-less world, and it’s an album that reflects on the decline out of relevancy, recorded amidst personal tragedies, but also has the angry, horny Iggy that’s never left us at all. Pop’s one and only chart hit, “Candy,” came out 26 years ago. But damn if this album isn’t full of winners.

Pop has always worked best with collaborators. Be it the Stooges, David Bowie, Kate Pierson, Debbie Harry or James Williamson, other people have always brought the best out of Iggy. So for what’s supposedly going to be his final album, it’s no surprise he’s surrounded himself with some familiar faces. His cohorts on the album are Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Dean Fertita, and Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders. Homme produced, cowrote and played primarily all instruments, with Helders on drums and Fertita on guitar, bass and keyboards. It’s almost as if Pop is being introduced into this circle of musicians, that includes QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, Eagles of Death Metal, Foo Fighters, and, ostensibly, Jack Black. It makes sense, as like those bands, Pop has always been fitfully mainstream.

It’s also worth noting that although writing and production on this album started a while ago, it was made amidst tragedies. Pop, of course, surprised everyone (including himself) by outliving his longtime mentor, David Bowie, whose death was obviously affecting on him. Only months earlier, Homme’s and Fertita’s side project, Eagles of Death Metal, played at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris as suicide bombers took the lives of 98 people. Although neither of them were actually present at the show, it has left an obvious impact on them.

So, how does it all actually come together? Remarkably well. Someone expecting punk bruisers like “Search & Destroy” is going to be disappointed, but “Post Pop Depression” is a dark album that stops just short of being brooding. Pop hasn’t lost a beat in his lyrics, opening with the romantic-turned-creepy “Break Into Your Heart,” into the somewhat existential “American Valhalla” and topping it off with poop jokes in “Chocolate Drops.” Pop is ultimately an entertainer and he’s at peak form here. More importantly, he still sounds great. His actual vocals – the only thing he does – haven’t always been great or even the focus of his music. But Homme, Fertita and Helders smartly center every song around him. And on most of the nine tracks his voice still sounds great. “Break Into Your Heart” and “Vulture” specifically are vocal winners. His deep, gritty voice is a long way removed from the peanut butter on the chest days, but he’s still that maniac.

Homme is essentially a second headliner on this album, as Pop specifically asked him to work on songs with him. But unlike past supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, Homme makes a smart move in not just turning this into another Queens of the Stone Age record (full disclosure: QOTSA is a top 10 fav band of mine). The music isn’t ever one thing. On “Break Into Your Heart,” it’s dense, everyone fighting for attention. On lead single “Gardenia,” the band gives way to some Iggy spoken word. On “Sunday,” all four give way to strings and female vocals on a surprisingly affective outro. Everyone gets time – Homme’s guitar line propels “In the Lobby,” Fertita’s bass nails “American Valhalla,” the whole band dominates closer “Paraguay,” and honestly, Helders’ drumming works all throughout (funny to think, only a few years ago he said his dream would be to work with Queens of the Stone Age. Did he think he’d ever get here?).

There’s nine songs on “Post Pop Depression,” and while they’re not all going to become standards in the Iggy Pop catalog, there’s little downtime. Each song has a uniquely different feel, and they all work to capture Iggy Pop as a whole. Pop has built his whole career on unpredictability, but for many years his music suffered from a lack of it. Not here. The album is almost always safe, but full of twists and turns. The move to strings in “Sunday” is the biggest, but there’s surprises hidden in nearly every song. There’s angry Iggy on “American Valhalla.” Horny Iggy on “Break Into Your Heart.” There’s a whole lot of “I” in general. This might not be down and dirty rock and roll, it’s certainly more complicated and complex than that. But if this is going to be Iggy’s last album, he’s going out on one his metaphorically highest, and literally lowest, notes in years.

Grade: A-

-By Andrew McNally

One Response to Iggy Pop “Post Pop Depression” Review

  1. People who have the stamina to look at music below the surface of pop mania are aware of Iggy Pop, the faun who did not die young. Cool article. Thanks, The Filtered Lens.

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