REASONS TO BE TEARFUL – Iggy Pop Returns With Josh Homme Collaboration ‘Post Pop Depression’
Never one to do anything by halves Iggy Pop has hinted that Post Pop Depression may be his last ever long player.
If that’s the case, the old devil’s bowing out in some style, having found the perfect songwriting foil in Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme.
But it’ll be a damned shame, because in these desperate, dull times the world needs an Iggy Pop to give us a good kick up our ripped backsides.
He’s on great form on this album, the voice is in fine fettle and it’s clear he’s really worked hard on the lyrics.
Recorded last year, with Homme at the controls, Post Pop Depression has been described by Iggy as “Detroit meets Palm Desert by way of old Berlin”.
And he’s not far wrong – there’s some Stooges swagger, machine-like riffing reminiscent of Lust For Life and The Idiot, and a humour that’s as dry as the Californian dust.
There’s also a real groove to the record, courtesy of Homme and the other musicians on the album, multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (QOTSA and Dead Weather) and Arctic Monkey‘s sticksman Matt Helders, clearly having the time of his life.
The spectre of Bowie also haunts the album, with Iggy confronting his own mortality and legacy on several songs.
Opener Break Into Your Heart starts with some big Steve Albini-esque drums as Iggy croons: ‘I’m gonna break into your heart/I’m gonna crawl under your skin’.
Age has added tone and wisdom to Iggy’s voice and Homme really draws it out here, particularly in the minimalist almost spoken word ending.
Writing the record Iggy said he had a persona in mind, ‘a cross between myself and a military veteran,’ and maybe that’s who we meet on Gardenia.
A seedy tale of ‘cheapo’ highway motels, set to a kind of underground Let’s Dance backing, Gardenia follows the protagonist’s pursuit of the eponymous object of his desire.
But this is not a love song, oh no, this guy wants ‘to tell Gardenia what to do tonight’ – to boss her around a little.
And while he admires her ‘hour glass ass’ ‘When you turn the lights on/There’s Always A Catch’ – this is no Hollywood romance.
American Valhalla is very much a song about raging against the dying of the light.
Oriental keys give way to deep rumbling bass, as an old warrior wonders what awaits him in the great beyond.
‘Is anybody in there?/And can I bring a friend?,’ he asks plaintively, ‘Death is a pill that’s hard to swallow’.
In the Lobby is a great groovy band track, with some dazzling spiky guitar work, as Iggy warns ominously ‘Somebody is losing their life tonight’.
Helders’ jungle drums herald the arrival of Sunday, where the influence of Bowie and the Berlin-era is most keenly felt.
It’s also a showcase for Iggy’s word-smithery. ‘This house is as slick as a senator’s statement,’ he snarls, ‘This street is as cold as a corporate lawsuit’.
Iggy’s baritone croon is lightened by soulful female backing singers as he rails against comfort and complacency ‘Got all I need and it is killing me – and you’.
There’s also a majestic final sequence as strings and brass sweep in to join the chorus of voices. Quite brilliant.
With a Mexican-flavoured acoustic backing, Vulture is another contemplation of death, but the below lines also suggest a satire on the music business and corporate culture in general.
‘Fat black vulture has got no shame/He’ll tell you a lie, cheat, steal and frame/His poison whiff will kill you stiff/This toxic executive wants your guts in his grip.’
It’s back to Berlin again for German Days, which is kind of a companion piece to Bowie’s Where Are We Now?
Less a nostalgic look back to the pair’s time in Berlin, than a series of snatched memories and lyrical vignettes, German Days is one of more ambiguous songs on the album.
Pope Benedict gets name checked at one point, along with German fast food Schnellimbiss, but there are hints of danger and decadence behind the ‘champagne on ice’.
Chocolate Drops is Iggy’s answer to REM‘s Everybody Hurts – the aural equivalent of having someone put a reassuring arm round your shoulders.
‘When your love of life is an empty beach/Don’r cry, don’t cry’, he sings, ‘When your enemy has you in his reach, don’t die, don’t die’.
It’s also a song about getting old, looking back and letting go: ‘When there is no one to share that empty chair, well okay okay’.
And while others when they get lemons make lemonade, well Iggy has this solution: ‘When you get to the bottom, you’re near the top/Where shit turns into chocolate drops’.
Last, but most definitely not least, comes Paraguay and if this really is Iggy’s final song on his final album, he couldn’t have found a more fitting last hurrah.
A blackly comic tale, it depicts a version of Iggy, shutting up shop and disappearing off to South America.
On one level it’s about getting rid of all the clutter, noise and information of modern life and living on our instincts like animals who just ‘do what they goddam do’.
But hey, this is rock star talking, he ain’t going completely back to basics but to ‘live in a compound under the trees/With servants and bodyguards who love me’.
There’s a wonderful foul-mouthed rant at the end where ‘Your basic clod, who made good’ sticks it to the ‘phoney two-faced, three-timing piece of turd’ who’s caused him to pack his ‘soul and scram’.
The cliched image of Iggy has ‘the godfather of punk’ roaring up to recording sessions on a motorcycle and laying down his vocals off the cuff between slugs of Jack Daniels.
But anyone who’s listened to his excellent BBC 6 Music shows will know what a keen student of music he is and what good taste he possesses.
That side of Iggy is fully in evidence here, this is a tight, taught, disciplined record, shot through with brilliant lyrics and sharp urgent rhythms.
If this, his 17th solo album, really does prove his swansong, then it’s a fine end to a glittering career.
Personally, I hope he doesn’t leave us all with Post Pop Depression (geddit) and makes a few more albums with Homme.
Post Pop Depression is out on March 18 on Rekords Rekords/Loma Vista/Caroline International. iTunes: http://found.ee/PPD_iTunes Vinyl/Merch: http://found.ee/PPD_OnlineStore Amazon: http://found.ee/PPD_Amazon