Iggy Pop ‘Post Pop Depression’ Review: Pop and Homme join forces for a suitably strange, if overly restrained affair.
It’s been a grim few months for rock music given the deaths of Lemmy, Frey, Emerson, and (most seismically) David Bowie.
And while still alive and kicking, Iggy Pop is confronting his own mortality. His new album Post Pop Depression, a collaboration with QOTSA’s Josh Homme has a pallbearers touch throughout.
The project, recorded largely in secret, will likely be Pop’s final sonic statement, given his recent announcement of possible retirement.
This sense of finality hangs over each track, coated in the dusty desert textures we’ve come to expect from Homme, who in addition to composing each song, provides his trusty guitar chops and backing vocals.
Opener Break Into Your Heart sets the tone, with Pop’s world-weary croon nestling in-between cinematic guitar twang. First single Gardenia is a livelier number, with the vocalist up to his familiar horny antics:
Now where do you roam?
Your hourglass ass
And your powerful back
Your slant devil eyes
On the shuffling The Lobby, Pop feels like a dead man walking, wary of the reaper’s touch: My shadow is walking in front of me / And I hope I’m not losing my life tonight.
Conceived by Homme as a spiritual sequel to Pop’s 1977 Bowie-produced classic Lust For Life—Depression is full of nods to the duo’s Berlin glory days: The lurching Paraguay recalls The Passenger, while the twinkling piano in American Valhalla hints at Pop’s original rendition of China Girl.
Bowie’s shadow is heavily cast, the loss of Pop’s friend and mentor haunting each track like an approving ghost. Likewise Homme is still coming to terms with the 2015 ISIS terrorist attack in Paris during The Eagles of Death Metal’s performance at the Batcalan.
The massacre associated with his musical project with Jesse Hughes still cuts deep, and it bleeds throughout the album.
But despite the dark grandeur, Depression feels like a missed opportunity at times. From Homme’s work with Them Crooked Vultures to Queen’s 2013 album …Like Clockwork there is a sense of restraint that even his most open-minded fan laments. One misses the heaviness of his early releases. Pop would be the perfect vessel for a Stooges-esque slammer and we’re denied that simple pleasure.
If that’s a deliberate artistic statement to withhold, so be it. But it’s a glaring omission.
This recalls an interview Homme did after the release of …Like Clockwork, where he hinted at a more upbeat follow-up (also a morose affair): Part of me thinks it would be great if this was the point-counterpoint that ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust For Life’ are, y’know?” he said. “I love those records so much; they came out in a quick period of time. ‘The Idiot’ is very dark and ‘Lust For Life’ is sorta like ‘Tah-daaah!’ I would love to answer this album with a ‘Tah-dah!’ at some point.
But given this understated affair is Homme’s homage to Lust for Life, one has to wonder if-and when-his bruising guitar riffs will ever return.
Thus Post Pop Depression might not grab you on first listen, not kicking in until its third or fourth go around. It’s as subtle an album as either artist has ever recorded, with the hallmark being the elegiac, jazzy Chocolate Drops, featuring Pop confronting the ladder of fame at his most poetically profane: When You get to the bottom You’re near the top/The shit turns into chocolate drops
And while closing track Paraguay is another low-key track, it does end with one of Pop’s classic snarled diatribes: You take your motherf—ing laptop, just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth, down your s—heel gizzard, you f—ing phony two-faced, three-timing piece of turd! And I hope you s— it out with all the words in it, and I hope the security services read those words and pick you up, and flay you for all your evil and poisonous intentions, cause I’m sick and it’s your fault! And I’m going to go heal myself now.
If this is indeed Iggy’s last album, he goes out middle fingers blazing. A comforting thing indeed.
‘Post Pop Depression’ is streaming for free on NPR ahead of its March 18th release. You can pre-order the album via iTunes and Amazon below.