“A lot of geezers my age don’t work out of their comfort zone anymore because once you become legendary you don’t want people challenging you.”
So declared Iggy Pop in announcing Post Pop Depression, the 17th Iggy Pop LP. Though several of his peers – namely Lou Reed and David Bowie (to varying levels of success) notably stepped outside of their comfort zones in their later years, it is without question that this record is a bravado attempt at a late period renaissance for Pop, after a pair of weakly received Stooges records and a limited release of the jazz inflected Préliminaires.
And in ‘Gardenia’, we were presented with a shimmering, lithe lead track to stop you in your tracks, automatically rendering this collaboration between Pop, Josh Homme, Dean Fertita and Matt Helders a worthwhile one. Which makes it a greater pity that, in many cases, the remainder of the album does not live up these lofty standards. ‘Sunday’, another track previewed before the LP’s release also stands out, with the addition of female backing vocals and a strings led coda showing a capacity to vary the tone that is regrettably absent elsewhere.
This is not a weak record by any stretch of the imagination, more so one where there is a sense of opportunity missed. Several tracks clearly call to mind Homme’s Desert Sessions project, and vary from the diverting to the plodding. ‘Break Into Your Heart’ kicks the album off establishing Iggy’s wistful tone underpinned by a dry and claustrophobic sound that becomes all too familiar over the course of the nine tracks. The likes of ‘American Valhalla’ and ‘In The Lobby’ are rather one paced, offering little out of what is quickly established as the ordinary. ‘Chocolate Drops’ offers a late lift to proceedings, delivering another slick and light of touch performance from both band and vocalist (albeit with something of a puerile hook for a chorus) and ‘Paraguay’ maintains this standard, offering what can be read as a definitive kiss off to the music industry in the latter portion of the track.
While a worthy effort, it is unfortunate that quality control was not tighter across the board, as it is truly something to hear a fully engaged Iggy backed by a reverent and motivated group of collaborators. As such, one can’t but feel that Post Pop Depression represents as much an opportunity missed as a record to be savoured.