Iggy Pop is one of those artists that I always have the time for. If I one day have every album, that would be just fine with me. While they tend to sprawl all over the place at times, there is usually something to recommend from each album. Iggy’s possibly the most instinctual artist ever. I always get the notion that he never labored much over anything he laid down on wax, and reports of Bowie agog as he improvised lyrics to backing tracks in 1-2 takes reinforce this notion. I’d heard that his last one was a corker, so when I saw a copy in Rockaway Records I figured I should snap it up. Did it live up to the hype?
#23 • Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression US CD 
- Break Into Your Heart
- American Valhalla
- In The Lobby
- German Days
- Chocolate Drops
The opener roped me in immediately! I heard “Break Into Your Heart” on the way to the gym and it lodged in my mind for the entire workout and shower. The darkly romantic song had plenty of undertow to pull the listener deep into the pool of sound that Pop was building here with this band; built around Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age – a band that’s only a name to my ears. I will say this. This band is diabolically sensitive to the needs of Pop. They made a tough rock sound here that was a far cry from the atavistic thrash The Stooges were infamous for. This was a subtler, moodier mix that mated with Iggy’s baritone croon like a house on fire. This was controlled energy burning a smoldering hole in your speakers.
“Gardenia” was a throbbing, lurching paean to a “Black Goddess in a shabby raincoat.” The guitar hook doubling back on the beat gave this one a hypnotic pull. I absolutely loved the middle eight where Iggy referred to himself as “America’s greatest living poet/was ogling you all night” because by this time in the song I was already convinced that Iggy was exactly that.
The instrumentation of this album is based on bass/guitars/drums/ but finesse was achieved with a sparing touch synths, and instruments as far afield as trumpets, tuba, and vibraphone as on the gripping “American Valhalla.” The beat here reminded me of the one that propelled Pere Ubu’s “Final Solution,” but the borrowing was more than justified by the haunting end result of songs like these. Beauty and poetry is achieved here. The rare dip into the noisier sound of the Stooges is relegated to “In The Lobby,” where the guitars squeal and Iggy lets rip with an unfettered vocal that careens out of control on the line “and I hope I’m not losing my life toniiiiiiight!!!”
“Sunday” was built on a beat not dissimilar to “Running Up That Hill,” but the song was hardly redolent of Kate Bush. When the female voice of Sharlotte Gibson added some female presence at the song’s midpoint it was shocking that this masculine album had made some room for a female. Then Iggy joined her for the coda and the music trailed off leaving only her singing. But that was the false coda. Then a small orchestra came in for a lush and surprising reprise that was the last thing one would expect from an Iggy pop album [if one had not previously heard “Préliminaires” or “Aprés”].
It made perfect sense when the vituperative “Vulture” opens up with the sound of Iggy’s acoustic guitar. It’s a dry, dusty dip into the Ennio Morricone playbook to magnificent effect. Joshua Homme even snuck in a Mellotron® in the mix! The cut climaxed with Iggy ululating like a flamenco singer; appropriately enough. The “German Days” that followed were a rare bit of Iggy reminiscing about Berlin; not unlike Bowie had done on “Where Are We Now,” only with a far colder eye. The song’s appropriate middle eight quoted from Kurt Weill’s “Alabama Song;” specifically the Bowie 1980 arrangement.
The closing “Paraguay” opened with a cappella massed backing vocals for a half minute before Iggy entered the song with Homme on acoustic. Pretty laid back, until the song’s midpoint when the band began vamping on a beat as Iggy ramped up into as crusty and rancorous a rant against everything diminishing him as he opted to escape to the titular Paraguay “to somewhere where people are still human beings.” Iggy managed to find new uses for a laptop before the invective died down at the 6:30 mark.
Wow! This one was a total keeper! “Post Pop Depression” was every bit as good as advance word had indicated. I should have guessed that something was up with the packaging, which showed the grizzled Iggy wearing a jacket instead of his more typical shirtless self. There is very little spoor of The Stooges in this work, which tends to be Iggy’s fallback position. I’m guessing that with the recent [to me, anyway] Stooges reunion albums under his belt, this allowed “Post Pop Depression” to move in more exciting directions. At least for me. It’s every bit as good as “The Idiot” or “Lust For Life.” Maybe better since Iggy made it at 68 with the notion that it may be his swan song. He just released an EP with Underworld, so we’ll see about that, but if this is his last album, he could have hardly made a better high water mark to bow out on.
CONCLUSION: enjoy…a lot