Sound — 8
Perhaps even better known for his erratic rock and roll personality than for his extensive career, which included his role as frontman with punk rockers The Stooges and an iconic solo collaboration with the late great David Bowie, Iggy Pop has been running strong for five decades and always seemed willing to blend his character while moving along with the mainstream trends - whether that be with garage rock, hard rock, blues, jazz, new wave or art rock. Yet it was with his surprising seventeenth record as a solo artist, "Post Pop Depression," that Iggy Pop is able to keep even the most dedicated listener on their toes after more than fifty years; the record shows Pop working alongside a formidable cast of musicians, including Josh Homme and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helder. And unlike some remarkable collaborations which end up just being too good to actually live up to the expectations, "Post Pop Depression" turns out to be the energetic blend of raw garage rock and avant-garde that many were anticipating.
The sessions for "Post Pop Depression" included some time that Pop spent revisiting unreleased content from his work with Bowie, while the rest of the performing lineup conjured up partial ideas in their respective corners before coming together in the studio to write the nine songs which appear on the record. The album launches right out of the gate with the bass-heavy "Break into Your Heart," which has a broody atmosphere which compliments the snarling vocals of and the moderately eerie brass arrangements courtesy of the QOTSA corner. "Gardenia" continues the momentum forward through complementary strikes of guitar chords which fall in between the tight percussion grooves and momentarily void spaces between Pop's lyrical execution, whereas the atmosphere becomes allthemore ambient with "American Valhalla," a song which is especially propelled by the grooving bass lines and the articulate doses of synthesized melody.
A slightly more aggressive garage rock attitude comes to fruition on "In the Lobby," which demonstrates a familiar breed of the "less-is-more" approach to guitar while rounding out the performance through the assertive bottom end. One can't help but point out the evident Bowie-like comparisons which surface over the duration of the album, particularly on the dance-rock-esque "Sunday" with it's electronic core and the talk-sung vocals, which contributes to the nostalgia art rock factor found throughout "Post Pop Depression." It's the insane acoustic rocker "Vulture" which disrupts this feel, if even for a moment as Iggy introduces more of his distinctive character into the final mix, as the album regains hold with the synthesizer heavy "German Days." The sound of the record crosses a different terrain with "Chocolate Drops"; while the bleak instrumental side of the album isn't abandoned in any way, Pop embodies his higher vocal range for this track and is accompanied by some chilling backup vocals which attributes another unanticipated turn. The effort is rounded out by a clear highlight with "Paraguay," a song which along with "Chocolate Drops" shows more depth into the lyrical genius of Pop while venting his frustration and angst with the current state of the music industry and culture in general. It's a thrilling listen, which makes it's sudden announcement and release that much more memorable.
Lyrics — 8
While the punk angst which decorates The Stooges anthem "Seek and Destroy" isn't quite embraced on his seventeenth solo album, Iggy Pop's lower register is almost entirely placed on display and for good reason; the record's ambient character, which does at times reflect the Bowie releases "Let's Dance" and "Scary Monsters," is best accommodated by the depth of Pop's growl on tracks such as "Break Into Your Heart" and "Sunday." The album is lyrically dominated by obsessions with hot topics like death and sex, however reaches it's full potential when Pop just vents on "Paraguay." That sudden outburst: "There's nothing awesome out here/ Not a damn thing/ There's nothing new/ Just a bunch of people scared/ Everybody's fucking scared/ Fear eats all the souls at once/ I'm tired of it/ And I dream about getting away/ To a new life/ Where there's not so much fucking knowledge/ I don't want any of this information/ I don't want YOU." Things only escalate from there and it proves to be a brilliant expression to conclude an unexpected and full-fledged collaboration.
Overall Impression — 8
The combination of Iggy Pop, Josh Homme and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age, and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helder proved to be everything hard rock advocates could have wanted from "Post Pop Depression." It's not a coincidence that this album stands among Pop's most memorable solo efforts in more than a decade, and that can be directly credited to a sum of it's parts. While one could get the impression that Pop is considering moving out on a highlight with his latest release, one also hopes that it's the first of at least one more collaboration with this formidable cast.