Of late, I’ve begun to think of Iggy Pop as a washed-up, once-great rockstar clinging onto the last fringes of relevancy. As the frontman of the protopunk band The Stooges, Iggy’s signature banshee wail and onstage antics shook the foundations of rock music in the seventies, so much so that he has since been dubbed “The Godfather of Punk”. His first two solo records, The Idiot (1977) and Lust for Life (1977), both produced by the late David Bowie, cemented his status as a rock n’ roll legend. However, lately his popularity has been waning. Iggy’s awkward shirtless performance of “Real Wild Child” on American Idol in 2011 came off as a desperate stab at reigniting his popularity, and if the Stooges’ Ready to Die (2013) was any indication of where Iggy’s career was heading, his newest album would normally have been of absolutely no interest to me.

But that all changed when news broke that Iggy’s Post Pop Depression was a collaboration with desert rock pioneer Josh Homme, who has more than proved his worth fronting bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. He also serves as one half of the southern hard rock duo Eagles of Death Metal. With Homme coming hot off Queens’ …Like Clockwork (2013), maybe his contribution, I thought, is just the shot of relevancy Iggy Pop’s career needs. And I was right. 53ec6a405d3f2b3330ce31c93da1d11d

Post Pop Depression was recorded between January and March 2015 in Joshua Tree, California, largely in secret. The record features guitar and vocal contributions from Homme, drumming from Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders, and guitar and bass from QOTSA’s Dean Fertita. Instrumentally, the record is reminiscent of Queens’ …Like Clockwork, with deep, moody bass lines, trudging drum beats, and dark, increasingly minimal production. Iggy’s deep, coarse vocals and introspective lyrics sound like those on The Idiot, meshing so naturally and effortlessly with Homme’s instrumentation that I was truly shocked that Pop and Homme haven’t collaborated together before.

“Break Into Your Heart” perfectly sets record’s tone, with bright, tinny synth lines and crunchy guitar dissonance. Iggy’s worn, low vocals creep over the instrumentation, delivering one of the album’s most memorably eerie hooks as he laments his inability to win an un-winnable woman. “Gardenia”, the record’s sole single, follows. The sparse, skeletal grooves in the verses of this track starkly contrast the ethereal, tremolo-infused soundscape filling up the choruses. Iggy and Homme show off their vocal chemistry, as Homme’s sensual tenor vocals sweeten Pop’s gnarled baritone to yield another catchy chorus melody. Iggy details the moral degradation of a once-pure woman, perhaps referring to jazz singer Billie Holiday, who wore gardenia flowers and developed a nasty drug habit.

After this track, however, the record’s direction begins to shift slightly, not sonically, but in content. The origin of the album’s title, Post Pop Depression, begins to manifest itself. Iggy’s lyrical content through the rest of the album seems to center around a depressive crisis brought on by his disillusionment with his place in the music industry. These lyrical alterations appear to be at the detriment of the record’s melodies, as the quality of the hook720x405-iggys noticeably decline at this point in the tracklist. However, Iggy seems to be aware of this. On “In The Lobby”, a lackluster low point of the record, he mocks the superficiality of the music industry, singing “And it’s all about the hook”. Perhaps the lack of catchy choruses on this record, although melodically disappointing, was intentional in order to attack pop culture’s obsession with these hooks. Instead, Iggy strives to use his music as a platform for his message, and in that regard, he does a phenomenal job.

In “American Valhalla”, Iggy contemplates his own death, praying that his career as a musician is enough to guarantee him afterlife. The instrumentation is decorated with clunky xylophone leads atop plodding bass. Iggy sings operatically and passionately, ultimately resolving that his worth is no greater than his has-been reputation, saying “I’ve nothing but my name”. The hook on “American Valhalla” is exceedingly dull and forgettable, however, as on the subsequent track “In the Lobby”.

“Sunday” is a highlight on Post Pop Depression, featuring a rolling drum rhythm, a decent chorus melody, and the album’s strongest lyrical content. Iggy mourns his dissatisfaction with his life as a rock star, singing “This job is a masquerade of recreation”. “Sunday” is a song about the fruitfulness of Christian devotion in the face of worldly disappointment, but it is too pessimistic to be labelled as an outright Christian track. The song ends on a truly somber note, as Pop and his female background singers repeat “Got all I need and it is killing me and you”, suggesting that even Christianity won’t be enough to pull Iggy out of his tailspin. The band fades out at the song’s end, yielding to gorgeous, lush string instrumentation playing a theme so beautifully impassioned it sends chills up my spine every time I listen to it.

“Vulture” is perhaps the album’s most creepily minimalistic track. It features a palm-muted acoustic guitar, marching snare drum rolls, and an uncharacteristically memorable hook from Iggy. The lyrics compare music industry execs and Iggy Pop imitators to vultures out to eat Iggy alive. “German Days” follows with a off-kilter opening guitar riff in 15/16, possibly the highlight of the song. The track’s hook is largely derivative of Queens of the Stone Age, and the lyrics cryptically compare society, or the music industry, to Nazi Germany. “Chocolate Drops” places Iggy in a shockingly emotionally-vulnerable light as he laments his inability to express his feelings and find purpose in his music. Iggy and Homme employ a beautifully melancholy call-and-response in the verses, and Homme shows off his guitar finesse with a laid-back yet intricate solo. As with many of the record’s other tracks, however, the chorus melody is exceedingly weak.

The first half of “Paraguay”, the album’s closer, features a despondently mellow groove and delicate piano leads. Iggy dreams of uprooting his life to a secluded location free from societal criticism. And then, with three minutes left on his record, Iggy finally decides to unleash his crazed, punk rock persona characteristic of early Stooges music. The instrumentation aggressively digs in with nutty drum fills, noisy guitar solos, syncopated riffs, and a QOTSA-esque melody delivered by Homme, atop of which Iggy delivers a ravenous spoken-work rant. He attacks society as a whole for its hypocrisjosh-homme-iggy-pop-1074x716y, superficiality, and arbitrary social customs, vowing to flee to a place where “people are still human beings”. This chaotic section crescendos as Iggy’s criticism culminates in pent-up, contemptuous screams. He wails that those who criticize and oppress him, those that have caused his “post pop depression”, should be flayed “for all your evil and poisonous intentions/Because I’m sick/And it’s your fault!”-truly the album’s most bone-chilling moment.

Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression proved everything I had previously conceived about the modern Iggy Pop to be wrong, partially thanks to Josh Homme. Iggy still has something of significance to say. He is just as impassioned as when he was the twenty-two year old frontman of the world’s most ferocious garage rock band. What Post Pop Depression lacked in melody, it made up for with its vehement lyricism, ominous production, and off-the-wall tenacity that only Iggy Pop himself can pull off.


Highlights: Break Into Your Heart, Gardenia, Sunday, Vulture, Paraguay

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