So it’s been a couple of weeks now since its release and I can only apologise for the late review. I can blame a busy schedule on it, of course, I mean it was Wrestlemania season, but also the fact that Iggy Pop’s latest studio album ‘Post Pop Depression’ came out on the 18th of March and has not stopped playing in our house ever since, has held me back from actually sitting down to write about it. I’ve certainly studied it, enjoyed it and deconstructed elements of it during the past two weeks, but here’s what we thought to the whole thing.
Now, Iggy Pop releasing a studio album in 2016 is an incredible feat in itself. But when you also consider that David Bowie released ‘Blackstar’ only months earlier it’d make for a pretty awesome year if only it weren’t for the amount of untimely passings in the music business. To still have one of rock n rolls biggest icons and one of the innovators of punk and onstage showmanship still performing and recording quality music like the material included in ‘PPD’ is nothing short of a gift. I’ve been a big fan of Iggy for years now, I was personally excited to hear of the new albums release and even more exciting when hearing of Josh Homme’s involvement in the proceedings. Homme is without a doubt one of modern music’s biggest stars and has fingers in all the right pies whether it be with his own bands, Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, his multiple additions to TV shows and music videos, or even his production role with bands like Arctic Monkeys. As far as modern music goes, I can’t see that we have that many idols that will be spoken of in 40 years time the same way we do the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and of course Iggy pop. But Josh Homme would be one of them. He is one of today’s real heroes in music and therefore his involvement with anything is incredibly valuable, so this album having his production skills as well as him being on guitar for the record add a modern credibility as well as a familiar sound. The rest of the featured band is just as impressive as Matt Helders from the Arctic Monkeys takes to the drums and Dean Fertita from both Queens of the Stone Age and The Dead Weather on guitar and keyboards.
So now we know about the super group involved in the album and of course we know Iggy’s legacy, his work with The Stooges and as a solo artist. We also know about the various collaborations he’s been a part of and some of the classic tracks/albums that have are still played daily even now. With this in mind, we press play and head straight into track one. Break Into Your Heart is possibly my favourite song on the whole record. Without warning Iggy’s vocals strike, with a deep, matured pitch. It’s Punk, but it’s slowed and done more deliberately. The whole thing says to me that he’s older, he knows it, he has to mature and his presence is more effective if that’s taken into account, but at the same time he’s the same guy we’ve always revered. The values are the same. Gardenia was the first track we all heard off the back of this project and was the one to get everybody invested, following a performance on The Live Show with Steven Colbert back in late January. With a bit of an 80’s sound and those same smoky, deep vocals pushing towards a catchy chorus it’s no surprise that Gardenia was pushed forward for single release, but really, I think any of the nine tracks on the album could have been. American Valhalla is particularly strange, especially with its intro featuring simply of a Xylophone. Not one of my favourite tracks on the album but it’s politically charged and it does hold an obscurity in itself that again indicates a swift move for Mr.Pop into a much more mature sound that even reminded me of Nick Cave and his presentations over the years. Iggy’s certainly a long way off from his 2003 album Skull Ring which was particularly pop punk and featured bands like Greenday and Sum 41. As good as that album was at the time, another LP like that thirteen years on just wouldn’t do. In The Lobby and Sunday feature some of my favourite guitar work on the album. From rough and gritty to piercingly high pitched guitar riffs. Sunday specifically stands out as the subject matter dumb down to laziness and not having to achieve anything, which becomes a welcome break of Breaking into hearts, getting your head around seemingly made up words like Gardenia and attempting to ignore Xylophone heavy intros. Vulture is one of the darkest songs on the record and despite its growth, the first thirty seconds of the song only having vocals and acoustic guitar almost suits as an interlude, dropping the experimental elements and guitar licks for half a minute and stripping it back to almost nothing, offering a sense of foreboding that compliments the dark style of the song perfectly. Some times less is more.
The final three tracks on the album, German Days, Chocolate Drops and Paraguay all serve as some of the catchiest, pop friendly sounds on the album but all in very different ways. German Days is a post war tale that starts and ends with this blunt guitar riff, whilst Chocolate Drops is an abstract hand on the shoulder, reminding all to not worry as things will always end out ok. Paraguay features a chant that will likely become synonymous with ‘Post pop depression’ and if that is the case then its placement at the end of the album was a great idea as the lasting impression and departing image we have of the album is heavy riffs, catchy punk chants and a defined sound that only a super group with a legendary front man could achieve.
I’m not going to say it’s a ten out of ten album, it’s rough around the edges and I can remember a good few albums from 2015 that I prefer, one of which being Keith Richards ‘Cross Eyed Heart’, but what it is, is an attention grabbing project and an exciting prospect by one of music’s largest icons, featuring nine tracks that all hold something special and have been written with experience and minds full of genius. It can’t and shouldn’t be ignored and in a year such as 2016 that has seen so much tragedy and loss, you’d be a fool to not want to celebrate this.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)