4 July 2016

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression


Iggy Pop – legend, fruit cake, bonkers, actor, crooner, punk, off the wall lunatic, all round crazy good egg.  Iggy has been there, done that, got the scars and somehow he is out living everyone around him when the world thought he was destined for the great beyond before everyone else, the man is one of the last of his breed and he just keeps going.  Recorded at the beginning of 2015, this album started when the mutual forces of Iggy and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss fame agreed to work together, being joined by QOTSA bass player Dean Fertita and Artic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders.  Iggy is seventeen studio albums into his career here and really does not have much else to prove at this point, but is this a step too far?  Or is it a revitalisation of an artist?  Is it art for art’s sake and lacking conviction?  Or is it just a decent record with no really surprises?  Well, the only real way to find out is to start the review…...

Opening song “Break into Your Heart” sees Iggy Pop strutting his stuff with a love song that is on the borders of being a stalkers anthem, it is a calm and patient number that have Josh Homme’s signatures stamped all over it and you could imagine this on a QOTSA age album and it would be a song that could get a lot of praise.  On here, it is a decent number that sounds as if it is trying to be retro and just sounds a little too contrived for my tastes today; it is performed well enough, but I do not feel the passion that might have been given by the band in the studio.  “Gardenia” is a similar mid-paced song which works a hell of a lot better than “Break into Your Heart”, it is more rock & roll than punk, punch & stroll; this is a side to Iggy Pop which works very well in my opinion and this song is a shining light on this album and really gains your attention from the opening note to the ending echoes.  I will concede it is not an instant classic such as “I’m Bored”, “Lust for Life” or even “Pussy Walk”, but it is still showing that Iggy can be as relevant as other artists who are currently strutting their stuff on the hit parade.  “American Valhalla” begins with a sound that a xylophone and then it brings on the rock and menace that you can expect from the people attached to this album.  It does not break the tone or pace of the album up, it could have been used as a song on the Quentin Tarantino film ‘Pulp Fiction’ as it shares a sound with Urge Overkill’s version of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”.  The song is once again a decent number, but it is another retro number that knows too much about itself to be anything other than good and does not reach the level of great that this assembled group of vagabonds really deserves/requires as a minimum.

“In The Lobby” does not change this pattern as it comes out with a psychedelic sixties jam feeling, you sound as if you are about to take a trip and it will be like this for eternity until the chemicals wears off and the comedown hits.  It continues the retro theme of the album and a film noir leanings of the sound with a classic kick of rock & roll to the song.  It does not quite ignite the album or change my feelings about the record so far, it is very stylistic and admirable – but I am struggling to find any depth here.  “Sunday” is the first song where the style and content match the talent of the band assembled, where the talent behind the album have made a song that is interesting.  That sounds really harsh, but so far it has been decent, yet unexciting.  This song has all the things that were under played in the first few song – the guitars are subtle, the bass is focused and the drumming is fantastic, it just makes sense.  Iggy sounds as good as he has through the rest of the song and it makes so much sense, the first song of the album that is above average for yours truly.  The next song is “Vulture” which sounds like it is the theme from a forgotten western, where everything is fucked up, filmed in grainy black & white and no-one is getting out of it alive or in the same mental & physical capacity as they went into it.  It is a song about the scavenging bird of prey, hunting the weak and eating the flesh from the dead.  It is back into Tarantino territory with this song, back to the style over the substance once again for the music and whilst there is nothing wrong with it, it is also not very memorable – even with Iggy giving it his all towards the end and there is something about that which is just not right in my books, it just seems to be something pretty without any firm footing.

“German Days” slows the album done once more, it has Iggy crooning over a slow, elegant number that feels like it should be making your hips move and your beard instantly desire a wax coating.  But I am bored, not the chairman of the bored or anything as vulgar as that – I am just flat out bored by this song, it is not technically wrong and it is well played as you would expect; but there is no spark to it, there is no soul and certainly no rock or roll.  “Chocolate Drops” is a song about not letting go, about there being a brighter day tomorrow in love and about something that was once shit can turn into something like chocolate.  Sentimentally, this is a very good song and I think that helps the song a bit, musically it is heading back to that psychedelic sound that has been used very liberally on this album.  It is another case of listening to a song which is played incredibly well, but it is not giving any joy or excitement and that is a little sad to be honest.  Ending this album is “Paraguay” which starts with an a cappella opening that takes about wild animals and how they act in accordance with their nature, it is then followed with another song that should excite and it fails to ignite any passion.  Towards the end, Iggy says he is tired of it, I sadly can relate……

I cannot look at this album as anything other than a disappointment, it would be one if it was done by a group of unknown musicians and that feeling is doubled when you consider who is involved in the project.  It is not that there is anything wrong with the album per se, but that does not mean it is doing anything exciting or engaging either.  There is no substance to this album, there is no soul and there is little to no passion to it either and that is something that even some of the most poorly received Iggy Pop albums have always contained.  You cannot fault the performance of the musicians as they sound professional and Iggy the crooner is something that sound be explored again as his voice is actually on fine form on this record, but it also needs to have a fire inside and that spark is not here on this record.  I know I am going against the popular press here, but I am not hearing the same record they are talking about and Iggy (with all due respect) is better than this and the talent behind the album is also better than this as well. I hate to say it, but this is not Iggy for me and the style has finally over took the substance – to requote Iggy himself “I’m bored” ……

5 out of ten – It could have been better

Top song – Sunday

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