ARTIST: IGGY POP + ALBUM: POST POP DEPRESSION + LABEL: Rekords Rekords/Loma Vista/Caroline International + RELEASED: MAR 18, 2016
Post Pop Depression was recorded in secret, financed independently, and billed as both Iggy Pop’s potential last album and the spiritual sequel to his classic, Lust for Life. Joined by Queen’s of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, QOTSA and Dead Weather cog Dean Fertita, and Arctic Monkey’s drummer Matt Helders, Iggy delivers an album that will go down in history as either an artist going out on top or an extraordinary resuscitation of an artist as an old man. No disrespect to Iggy’s recently-past releases, but Post Pop Depression strikes me as being on a whole other level.
Songs like “Break Into Your Heart,” “Gardenia,” and “American Valhalla,” sound rooted in New York post-punk (e.g. a little Television, a little Heartbreakers), and the twin 1977 David Bowie produced albums, Lust for Life and The Idiot. Homme’s angular and muted guitars shape these songs, anchored by Helder’s backbeat. Contrary to the huge guitars and dynamism of Queen’s of the Stone Age, Homme here sounds both controlled and deliberate. Rather than distorted stoner-rock riffage, Homme seems honed in on a mission to send Iggy out with a singular sounding album (yes, even if it calls back to his 1977 releases, it still sounds nothing like what’s popular with the kids today). Post-punk bands like the aforementioned Television, or even Gang of Four, seem to have a strong sonic influence on the albums tone. This is a welcome and refreshing approach that reinforces Iggy’s legacy as an artist, not just a rock and roll wildman.
The first few listens to the album struck me as being a little same-y. But on closer listens, and a few times with headphones, and this album is actually quite eclectic. Tracks emerge sounding remarkably similar to Nirvana before evolving into more complex territory. What’s more, Iggy’s vocals and lyrics are in as fine of form as they’ve ever been. Lyrically, he’s sometimes obtuse, but that never interrupts his swagger. At times, you can almost feel Iggy strutting about while he sings. And it’s this energy that makes you wonder if this is really his last album of new material.
Critics of Homme’s collaboration with Dave Grohl and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones cited a sound most similar to Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age, than a collaboration of three decorated artists producing groundbreaking material. I think there’s some truth to that (though I love that album), but that is not the case here. On Post Pop Depression, Homme has done an impressive job of making an Iggy Pop album. This doesn’t sound like Iggy singing with Queens of the Stone Age. If any comparison is to be made, this recording sounds closer to Homme’s Desert Sessions. What takes this album to another level is a familiar sound, but also a sound that completely lacks nostalgia. It’s not necessarily some forward-thinking, innovative masterpiece, but it’s definitely a refreshing sound in this state of popular music purgatory that we currently reside.
Iggy sounds great on this album, the songwriting is top-notch, and I would ultimately expect that this would reinvigorate his creative endeavors. Iggy has clearly learned a thing or two from David Bowie. As his comrade surprised his fans at nearly every turn, I wouldn’t doubt that Iggy has a few surprises up his sleeve in the future. If I’m wrong, he has certainly gone out on a high note. Something few artists of his tenure can claim. Cheers, Iggy Pop! Here’s hoping you stick around a little longer.
– J. Kevin Lynch