Iggy Pop has now been at large in the music business for well over half a century. In that time he has become a household name and brought the likes of The Passenger, Lust for Life and I Wanna Be Your Dog to our appreciative ears. His impressive career leads us to Post Pop Depression, his 17th studio album, which is due for release on 17th March and it’s set to be something rather different.
After laying some lyrics in modern legend, Josh Homme’s lap in early 2015, Homme reciprocated and they started laying the foundations for a collaborative effort. Enlisting the help of QOTSA bandmate Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, the quartet entered Homme’s home studio in Joshua Tree and after two weeks, Post Pop Depression was complete. Later, Homme cited preparing it as one thing that got him through the Bataclan attacks in November 2015. I guess appropriately, and putting the album title into context, the album tackles Pop's mortality and what he'll leave behind. The result of these two at work together has produced a 9 track stroke of genius.
Pop, as ever, tackles his chosen subject poetically and his signature emotive, gravelly tones suck you straight into the slow, grinding guitar and disjointed rhythms that are Homme’s hallmark. There are moments where I really felt like this was a QOTSA album, especially as Pop’s vocals can drop to a baritone level on par with long-term collaborator Mark Lanegan, but there’s a shaky, almost operatic edge to Pop’s which so often comes with age that sets them miles apart. The album starts with the haunting lyrics “I’m gonna break into your heart, I’m gonna crawl under your skin…and follow, to see where you begin” set to the backing of a pedal modified guitar that sounds not dissimilar from a ghoulish steel drum. This is followed with a riff that wouldn’t have been out of place on QOTSA’s Like Clockwork and the overall effect is jaw dropping.
The recent single, Gardenia opens with poppy feeling synth fading away and sinking into a dirty funk bass riff. It’s catchy and has that NY cool which sees me subconsciously foot tapping and nodding away. This track feels more like Iggy Pop, especially with his warbling and punchy vocals during the verses and stands out a firm favourite for me from this LP. This is followed by American Valhalla which begins with twinkly some xylophone no less! This is however, a ruse as the tune carries straight into an even dirtier guitar riff than Gardenia and oozes Homme’s signature so much that you could tell he had a hand in it without any background knowledge.
The next track - In the Lobby has a more collaborative feel to it. The drums, bass and vocal are steeped in psychedelic influence and the overlain guitar carries a more modern feel, not dissimilar to Mind Eraser, No Chaser (Them Crooked Vultures).
The remaining tracks continue in a similar vane, waxing and waning but always holding that slow, trudging brilliance the album set out with up to the final track – Paraguay. Paraguay opens with a harmonised acappella and for the first time on this LP, clean, chord driven guitars bolstered with a smattering of piano. On the face of it, it seems to be about travelling to Paraguay, but some of the lyrics make me think that this is more of poetic reference to travelling to the other side. In spite of the implied subject matter, the 6+ minutes of the track is broken with tra-la-la’s, then thumping chords with recititive recitative vocals at the bridge. It’s a fantastic finish and another of my favourites from the LP.
Overall, the album is hypnotic and in contrast to the subject matter, has an uplifting effect, drawing you in from the start and holding your unwavering attention throughout. Having been something of a fan of both Pop and Homme individually, I was hoping for great things from their collaboration and I have not been disappointed. This will be a must have for fans of both Iggy Pop and Queens of the Stone Age alike.