Few artists have truly spanned the decades and survived to tell the tale. Iggy Pop is one who defies the odds. In his latest album, Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop collaborates with guitarist Josh Homme and bassist David Ferita of Queens of the Stone Age, as well as drummer Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys. As the title would suggest, Post Pop Depression is an album full of emotion and melancholy, as it seems Iggy Pop says goodbye to his own bygone era in music. In a sense, both post-pop and post-Pop are at play here. Entering into the twilight years of his career, Pop positions himself for a graceful exit, as Post Pop Depression upholds what fans have come to know and love about Pop, even as he embraces darker tones that signal his inevitable departure from the scene.
Pop has said himself about the album that, “I feel like I’m closing up after this.” Though fans knew that the 68-year-old rocker would one day close up his lucrative shop, the point is still hard to swallow. One can immediately draw parallels to the late David Bowie and his album Blackstar. There are some tonal and situational similarities, which is sad, as many great artists seem to be penning their final chapters. But Post Pop Depression calls to mind all the varied sounds and ideas Pop has often brought to the table while emotionally saying he will not go out quietly.
Pop makes his intentions for the album clear during the first track “Break Into Your Heart,” as the catchy tune infiltrates the mind, as the title suggests. As in other tracks, Pop seems to strive to “break into the hearts” of listeners as his era comes to a close. In an instrumentally unchallenging but effective way, the keyboard embellishments, catchy chorus, and swelling guitars achieve that decidedly.
The infectious single “Gardenia” is a song with a bumping bassline and guitar oscillations that will quickly grab listeners’ attention. Lyrically, Pop explores what may be considered a lustful love for a woman, possibly a prostitute, adding another layer of intrigue to the song.
One of the most interesting songs on the album, “American Valhalla” seems to scratch at the core of Pop’s thoughts behind the album and his place in the music scene. Dark and dirty bass tones and light keyboard notes carry Pop’s lyrics which speak to his concern for his legacy. His words, “Where is American Valhalla / Death is the pill that’s tough to swallow / Is there anybody in there?” speak to his concern as he wishes to be invited to the “afterlife” of his era. Later he sings, “I have nothing but my name” and later ends the song with several poignant spoken repetitions of the phrase. Again, Pop seems to call into mind the legacy he has accrued for himself, wondering what it is worth in the end.
Other songs like “Sunday” have that unique elements, like a distorted guitar aids in solidifying its more thought-provoking lyrical content. Additionally, the end of the song fades into an interesting non sequitur style of orchestral music that carries on with the melody. The somber nature of the song becomes clearer as it symphonically approaches the finale, a clear nod to Pop’s own feelings. “Vulture” has a south-of-the-border feel, while the overall effect of the song evokes feelings of unease in listeners.
Post Pop Depression is an uneasy, weird, and moody set of tracks that seems to signify the end of a great artist’s career. Every track has a different instrumental mood, which plays nicely into the subjects of each song and the overall feeling of the album. This works to the album’s advantage, as it points to an understandable disposition to have as an artist. And the album represents a fitting end with Pop’s aged and worn voice, which is still touching and moving. Though Pop may fear the future of his legacy as he ventures into the twilight of his career, fans will know that his songs will continue to roll on in our hearts and ears. Depression may take root, but all one has to do is look back at a life of accomplishments. No matter his age, Pop is still a modern guy.
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