Album Review: Iggy Pop, ‘Post Pop Depression’

Chris Osifchin

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Iggy Pop is a rock ‘n’ roll cockroach. And he’s not going to let anybody step on him.

Though he’s never fully made his way out of the rock and roll consciousness, Iggy Pop hasn’t released any particularly notable material in recent years, until now. Usually making headlines for his insane stage antics, he’s always been a forceful persona, modeling his performances after Jim Morrison’s most outlandish stunts, and his voice and body display the wear and tear of a fearless, daredevil performer. At 68 years old and facing his impending mortality, the dark, moody, defiant Post Pop Depression proves that Iggy Pop will not go quietly into that good night.

Of course, it helps to assemble an all-star supporting cast. Ever hear the expression, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room?” Iggy Pop must have, enlisting Joshua Homme and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys to play on the album, after long-time admirer Homme reached out to him through a text. That’s not to say that Iggy isn’t good enough, though, as he is arguably the best he’s been since the Lust for Life days.

Post Pop Depression unsurprisingly melts Homme and Fertita’s uniquely disjointed melodies into the wax, but also manages to cull Iggy Pop’s anarchic instability, transforming it into brooding undertones in grooves that only this unlikely combo could produce. The results are often extraordinary – sometimes incredibly crass, sometimes dark and gutsy and almost always at odds with convention. It’s Iggy Pop dissing death, a metaphysical “Come at me, bro” directed right at the grim reaper. If this album was partially born from some notes on Iggy Pop’s time with David Bowie, arguably the most important and influential years of his career, it’s the complete opposite of the latter’s Blackstar.

This ain’t a eulogy. It’s an attack.

“American Valhalla” emobodies the aesthetic, as Iggy Pop contemplates death. Admitting that he doesn’t know what might happen when we die, the creepy, crawly piano riff coupled with Iggy’s almost meditative restraint is entrancing. “Where is the American Valhalla,” he sings, “death is the pill that’s hard to swallow.” At 68, Iggy knows the end is near, but he doesn’t want to accept it, and is searching for meaning in the face of darkness. He ends the track reciting the line “I have nothing but my name.” It’s a dark, deeply personal reflection on what the end of Iggy Pop’s life might look like.

The most primal track comes in the form of “Paraguay,” the album’s closer. What starts out as an escape fantasy turns into an aggressive, belligerent affirmation of life. Asserting the notion that humans are still animals, despite the fact we can think and dream and download, Iggy Pop confronts not only his own impending mortality, but also the death of the American soul. Dreaming of an escape to Paraguay, Iggy Pop recites the lines “I wanna be your basic clod/Who made good/And went away while he could/To somewhere where people are still human beings/Where they have spirit,” over Homme’s screeching blues until it boils over like a screeching teapot. There is no better way to end this rumination on a life well-lived than Iggy Pop’s proclamation that the world is a soulless place, but that he is going to go heal himself.

Post Pop Depression holds one cockroach I would let live in my basement forever.

Rating 8 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites