The first thing I liked about Iggy Pop’s new album, Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista), is that the band members are not just pictured but actually identified on the front of the album. It’s as if Pop, who has been mostly a solo artist since his band The Stooges broke up in 1974, is saying, “I can’t do this alone, guys.”
And why should he? Pop turned 69 last week. He has lived a life that would have killed most people a long time ago, but he is still here, writing lyrics that are as powerful as anything on my favorite Pop album, 1977’s The Idiot. In fact, they are more powerful because many of them are about himself, and age, and the inevitability of death–a theme that must have hit Pop like a thunderbolt when his pal and producer David Bowie died earlier this year.
The album opens with “Break into Your Heart.” “I’m gonna break into your heart / I’m gonna craw under your skin / I’m gonna break into your heart / And follow / Till I see where you begin,” Pop intones. No, this is not a love song; it’s a plea for understanding from a man who has lived under the shadow of his own mythology for forty years. At the end, he adds to those opening lines, “And the wall comes tumbling down / And you finally let me in.”
“American Valhalla” reveals direct autobiographical references to that mythology and its dark limits. “I’ve shot my gun / I’ve used my knife / It hasn’t been and easy life.” The band eventually drops away completely, and we get Pop’s voice alone, growling, “I’ve nothing but by name / I’ve nothing but my name”
In sum, Post Pop Depression is less “Lust for Life” and more “Prayer for Life.” It’s the angry young man of Fun House and Raw Power turned inward. But there is plenty of anger still there. Because this is a family blog, I won’t quote verbatim his kiss-off to Internet trolls that closes the album in “Paraguay,” but it’s great–and so is Post Pop Depression.