By Henry Schecker
I remember the first time I listened to The Stooges 1973 album “Raw Power;”
It was the natural conclusion to a tracing of the family tree of punk rock that I had undertaken in my junior year at Stroudsburg High School.
From the first few seconds of “Search and Destroy,” I knew I had found the undisputed origin of punk.
It was if I had discovered the source of the River Nile, it was genesis, it was a revelation, and it was fantastic!
I beg of you reader, if you’ve never heard of Iggy Pop or “Raw Power” please do yourself a favor and take a listen to the album on YouTube or Spotify.
Henry Rollins describes Iggy Pop, born James Newell Osterberg, Jr., as being the World Heavyweight Champion of Rock and Roll.
Let me elaborate on why that’s the most appropriate description of Iggy Pop I’ve ever heard.
The aggression and depravity of the music and lyrics combined with the raw, barbaric and often sexual stage presence of The Stooges was spearheaded by Iggy.
Mr. Pop was a drummer-turned-frontman who got the nickname “Iggy” from his previous band The Iguanas.
Iggy acted like a Neanderthal, often exposed his genitalia to the audience, smeared peanut butter on his chest, bladed himself during songs and popularized, if not invented, the practice of rock stars “stage diving,” things that were as surreal and un-natural as ccould be in the late 60s.
The counterculture might have birthed The Stooges, but that’s where the similarities stop.
The hippies wanted to get stoned and have peace and love. This new generation wanted to get stoned and have a piece of somebody’s love.
That all being said, “Post Pop Depression” is not “Raw Power”, nor was I expecting it to be. Iggy is not the same man he was in 1973.
He’s matured. He has been clean and sober and kept a healthy diet and workout regimen since the 80s, and as such is much healthier than most of his rock star peers; which makes me feel that his announcement that this is his last album is more reactionary to his close friend and musical collaborator David Bowie’s death than a premeditated plan.
At 68 years old, Pop seems to be very wary of his own mortality and if he’s content enough with “Post Pop Depression” to retire on it then so should we, the fans.
I will admit, selfishly, I wish the world could get a few more collaborative albums from Iggy and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and I mean that as a testament to how well these two mesh together.
Queens of the Stone Age bassist Dean Fertita and Artic Monkey’s drummer Matt Helders round out the supergroup Pop assembled to record the album and tour in support of it.
Flourishes of Homme’s signature guitar tone and song structure are felt all over this album and in many ways the mixing is reminiscent of QOTSA’s 2013 album “…Like Clockwork”.
The album walks the line between dark brooding “desert sessions” jams and light-hearted (for Homme) hip-shakers.
The album opener, “Break Into Your Heart,” is a mysterious sounding, vaguely threatening, romantic song.
The guitar swirls around a tight drum track and a bass line that propels the song forward under Iggy’s gravelly crooning.
A chugging verse, followed by the sing-songing chorus feels very much like a Queens of the Stone Age song.
It gives the impression that this may have been a Homme song that Pop added his touches to.
It’s not a bad way to start the album and it is pretty indicative of the rest of the album’s sound.
“Gardenia” is a bouncy love song that would perfectly compliment a long drive on a sunny day.
The song is dripping with reverb and the kind of swagger and confidence only Pop could bring to the table.
“Gardenia” is definitely going to be a concert favorite and probably the most memorable song from this album.
“American Valhalla” is dark and pulsing. The bass sounds absolutely sinister, made even more so by the playful xylophone track overlying the song and the choppy guitar in the pre-chorus and chorus.
The drums snap, crackle, and pop throughout and make the song feel faster than it actually is.
Iggy gives out a pretty bleak outlook on this track as he repeats over and over “I’m nothing but a name” to close out the song.
“American Valhalla” is as chilling as much as it is thrilling.
“In The Lobby” sounds like it could be the theme to the next James Bond. A smooth bass line and shrill guitar noodling resonate as Iggy refrains “Somebody is losing their life tonight/and I hope I’m not losing my life tonight.”
This track seems to be more akin to Iggy’s Bowie produced 1977 LPs “The Idiot” and “Lust For Life,” but from the perspective of fans who grew up with those rather than the man himself.
I have a hunch that this was Homme, Fertita and Helders’ “fan-boying” track.
“Sunday” is my favorite song on Post Pop Depression. The drums punch the song along with a disco/tribal feel.
The guitar drips with a slick over produced 80’s sheen and the bass line hides beneath it like slithering snake.
The entire song drips with sexual energy. On first listen, I found myself wiggling in my seat, but by fifth listen I was breaking into a full on groove, air guitar and all.
This is “Post Pop Depression’s” parting gift to me; a writing little ear worm that’s going to be with me for weeks… at least until the new Weezer album drops April 1.
The sixth track “Vulture” is like a bizarre mix of the soundtrack to a spaghetti western and The Doors’ “The End.”
Most of the song is Iggy Pop delivering spoken word in raspy monotone telling the tale of the titular vulture.
It’s eerie and sounds like the ramblings of a sun bleached madman on the side of the road through Death Valley. The chorus is a massive build up and overly dramatic affair, with the tension rising to ridiculous levels.
Iggy is hamming it up and this has got to be the band having a bit of fun. It’s silly and dumb, but Iggy Pop named his debut solo album “The Idiot” so Iggy’s never took himself seriously anyway.
“German Days” lyrically alludes to his time spent in Germany during David Bowie’s “Berlin period”. It’s the most blatantly nostalgic track on the album.
Pop croons and moans his way through the track, and it feels like it could have been a little shorter, but the man’s got to say what he’s got to say.
“Chocolate Drops” is a funky laid back groove, with one of the two expletives on the album. The drum and bass are tight and cohesive, while Homme eases into a slide guitar for lead duties.
It’s a very stylish song, and one of the more polished tracks on the album.
There is a lot of multi-layering and vocal harmonies between Homme and Pop on this album, but more so on this track than others.
Homme’s falsetto is drenched in reverb and pushed back into the mix making it sound other worldly and miles away. It’s a really cool effect and one that makes this track stand out.
“Paraguay” is the album closer and at first listen sounds like a novelty song in the vein of Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville.” That is until you get to the profanity laced diatribe at the end, where Pop sort of goes “angry old man” on us and berates everything about the modern world.
Pop gnashes his teeth and spitefully declares “I want to go to a place where people are still human beings, where they have spirit.”
Perhaps angry old man is harsh, maybe I’m not looking at it the right way. Maybe Iggy’s just sick of all this modern mumbo jumbo, maybe he’s looking for a place to be untamed and wild and free, or maybe he’s just tired.
I’m not tired of you Mr. Pop, and if indeed this is the last I hear of you, you majestic animal, then you had one hell of a run.
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