Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: March 18th, via Loma Vista Recordings
Iggy Pop, the Godfather of punk, has brought along a cast of modern rockers for the recording of his latest record, Post Pop Depression. The star, next to Pop of course, would be Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who not only plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and provides backing vocals, but also co-wrote and produced the record along with Pop, while additional bass, guitar, and keyboard tracks were performed by fellow Queens’ member Dean Fertita, as well as Artic Monkey’s Matt Helders on the drums. As if this alone was not enough of a statement, to hear the pure artistry and personality of Pop alongside the genius of Homme, the singer has also claimed that Post Pop Depression will more than likely be his final album, stating “I feel like I’m closing up after this. That’s what I feel. It’s my gut instinct… the energy’s more limited now.”
This statement, however, should not be taken as a reflection for the sound and tone of Post Pop Depression, as this is by no means an album which lacks energy. Though this is not an explosive energy in which Pop is known for, it gets it’s spring in its step from a certain sexiness, which is undoubtedly a large contribution from Homme. That being said, both tracks, “Vulture” and “Paraguay”, show that Pop has still got a heart full of napalm, aiming his anger at the music industry. This album, in fact, was paid straight from the pockets of Pop and Homme, serving as both a raised middle finger to an industry which has left both artists feeling cheated, and an inspiration to young, aspiring musicians hoping to make it. In comparison to Pop’s numerous past collaborations, this is as brilliant as his many works with David Bowie, whom co-wrote and produced The Stooges Raw Power, as well as Pop’s solo debut, The Idiot and the following Lust For Life. It is quite easy to draw parallels between this record and a number of Homme’s previous projects. From the unique use of instrumentation, including the vibraphone melody in “American Valhalla” and the sting arrangements at the end of “Sunday”, to the colorful harmonies provided by a rich blend of layered guitars, keyboards, and Homme’s voice, this is, without any doubt, a record written between the two artists. Homme is one most distinctive modern rockers; his voice, the way he plays the guitar, his guitar tone, and his approach to song writing, but when all of these are factored together, it is the added essence of sexiness that he adds to everything he does. This comes across, even through Pop’s grizzly voice.
Musically, Post Pop Depression is not Pop’s attempt to rehash textures which he has already accomplished. Rather, he has chosen to chart new territory along with Homme. This is not a punk album; to call it punk because it has Iggy Pop’s name on it would be too simple of a classification. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is; it is certainly unique, and it is certainly rock, but it is not your typical rock record, rather it sits somewhere between Pop’s past work, especially Lust For Life, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures. Overall, as a record, Post Pop Depression covers a wide range of stylistic ground from funkier numbers of the likes of the lead single, “Gardenia”, while “In The Lobby”, “Sunday” and “Vulture” are crunching rockers. Other songs, seem to completely break the mold, standing out among an already excellent track list; for example, “German Days” is highly unique for its meter shifting, and time changing structure, while paired with a slinky guitar riff in which Pop hauntingly howls over, while “Paraguay” takes the form of a mellow ballad, which evolves, or devolves, over its six minute length into a frustrated rant over top of layered vocal harmonies, pulsing guitars, and a complimenting solo. All in all, Post Pop Depression is an excellent album without a weak song to hold it back from achieving all the praise it is worth. While Pop’s voice has certainly aged, it now has the presence of the rock ‘n’ roll survivor that he is, sounding rough even at his smoothest on the opening track, “Break Into Your Heart”, incredibly raw and real in “Vultures”, and damn imposing on “Paraguay”. His voice carries a weight of his punk rock identity; gravelly, and even hoarse at time, further adding to the character and personality which he is known to personify.
Seeing as this very well may be the swan song of Iggy Pop, it seems impossible to not examine Post Pop Depression as a reflection of the singer’s near fifty year career in relation to his previous works. While many may complain that this record lacks the grit heard on his early work with The Stooges, or does not measure up to his most acclaimed solo albums, The Idiot and Lust For Life, it must be acknowledged that those classic records were as much a product of Pop’s artistry as they were that of his collaborations with James Williamson, the Asheton brothers, and David Bowie, as well as a product of the times. These were records which not only are the foundations of Iggy Pop’s musical identity, but also provided a soundscape which would influence and define the American punk rock movement of both the American East and West coasts during the 1970’s. While Pop will forever be known as the Godfather of punk, his works following that period should not be diminished. Recognizing that, Post Pop Depression actually surpasses much of Pop’s past work, making it an album which can stand among his best; a just conclusion to the recording career of a true legend. Homme states it best, “Lemmy is gone. Bowie is gone. He’s the last of the one-and-onlys. It took balls to be him, a little guy with a big dick scaring people in Detroit. Everyone should take a knee for Iggy. He deserves it. He never got the respect or the acclaim. Mostly by his own hand, but he made the shit that’s spawned more bands than any other person, ever. Bring on the statues, you motherfuckers!”
Through following Josh Homme into the desert, Iggy Pop returned with Post Pop Depression, a reflection of his life and his mortality; a record as dark and mysterious as it is sleazy, sexy, and fun. Should this be Pop’s recorded curtain call, then he has certainly gone out on a high note by releasing Post Pop Depression; a modern alternative masterpiece, which is not only some of Pop’s best work in recent years, but stands out as a highlight on his already renowned discography.
Iggy Pop, along with Josh Homme, will be performing in Toronto at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 9th.
1: Break Into Your Heart
3: American Valhalla
4: In The Lobby
7: German Days
8: Chocolate Drops
Listen to “Gardenia”:
Listen to “Sunday”:
Listen to “American Valhalla”: