Iggy Pop goes down in the blaze of glory
Jimmy Kemper | Sunday, March 20, 2016
After 16 albums and a few decades of aggressively stamping on the throat of conventional rock, as he blazed a path for punk rock with the ferocity of a napalm bomb, Iggy Pop certainly deserves a rest. But rest he does not. At the ripe, young age of 68, the former frontman of The Stooges rages harder than an Alumni kid at a St. Paddy’s Day darty on his 17th and supposedly final album, “Post Pop Depression.”
If this is to be Iggy Pop’s last record, it’s a hell of a note to end on. Raw, fierce and uncompromising, Pop’s last stand is everything you could want out of the legend.
“Post Pop Depression” is a rather unique album, even for Iggy. It’s been billed as a sort of sequel to his 1977 proto-punk classic, “Lust for Life.” For those who don’t know, this was one of two albums Iggy Pop recorded in Berlin with the help of the late David Bowie.
Even if Bowie’s earthly presence is gone now, his influence lives on eternal, seeped in the bones of this album. Everything about this record, from the stellar production to the spacey harmonies to the sharp lyrics, screams of Bowie’s otherworldly touch.
It’s haunting, especially when placed in the context of Bowie’s last album, this past January’s “Blackstar.” Like “Post Pop Depression,” “Blackstar” was designed to be a swan song as Bowie secretly suffered from cancer. While his dear friend’s final work represented that of a man accepting his fate, Iggy’s is that of a man struggling to come to terms with the inevitable.
This fear most strongly manifests itself in the lyrics, as Pop howls that death “is a tough pill to swallow” (“American Valhalla”) and acknowledges that “time is so tight, it’s closing in” (“Break Into Your Heart”). Iggy’s anxiety reaches its zenith when, during a moment of quiet reflection between tracks, Iggy repeatedly groans “I’ve got nothing but my name.”
Death is fundamental to “Post Pop Depression,” but with it comes a chance for reflection, redemption and the ridiculous. To this end, Iggy Pop has enlisted the aid of Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. Together, Iggy Pop and Josh Homme are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — two punk outlaws charging out in a blaze of glory. The clash of Pop’s sexualized, swirling baritone against Homme’s jagged guitar licks is the sonic equivalent of Ben Affleck’s Batman taking on Henry Cavill’s Superman: It’s powerful, awe-inspiring and just plain fun to be a part of.
Like Affleck, Iggy should be far past his prime, but that doesn’t stop him from showing the world that he can go round for round with the new kids on the block. Iggy’s riotous, undying punk spirit has never been more apparent than on the album closer “Paraguay.” Just when you think Pop is willing to let the music die, he knocks you out with a sucker punch, screaming: “You take your m—–f—–’ laptop and just shove it into your g—— foul mouth, down your s— -heeled gizzard, you f——’ phony, two-faced, three-timing piece of turd” as Homme shreds in the background. What a great note to end on.
“Post Pop Depression” is so much more than just Iggy Pop’s swan song though. It’s the passing of Hades’ torch to Josh Homme, a hellish, one-of-a-kind tribute to David Bowie and the screaming, final shot of punk’s flare gun against the cold night of corporatism. Iggy Pop’s final album kicks butt, and that’s just the way it should be.
Recommended Tracks: “Paraguay,” “Gardenia,” “Sunday”
Similar Artists: Lou Reed, David Bowie, The Clash