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REVIEW: Iggy Pop shares lively musical passion with “Post Pop Depression”

Iggy Pop’s secretly recorded album, “Post Pop Depression,” was released Friday. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA
Iggy Pop’s secretly recorded album, “Post Pop Depression,” was released Friday. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA

In 2003, something great happened for the world of punk rock and garage rock — the Stooges reunited. On Friday, 68-year-old Stooges vocalist and entertainment mastermind Iggy Pop released a new album, aptly titled “Post Pop Depression.”

James Newell Osterberg Jr., as only his birth certificate or relatives might refer to him, has become an image of proto-punk rock unpredictability and shirtlessness. The name Iggy Pop is a byword for outrageous stage presence. Funny enough, it is also a byword for presence off the stage. In 2010, after a nasty stage diving incident in New York, Iggy Pop renounced any future of diving into crowds. In April of the same year, he dove from the stage three times in a single concert.

That’s the Iggy Pop we know and love. It’s a huge bonus that “Post Pop Depression” isn’t half bad either.

First and foremost, as far as proto-punk is concerned, the world is in no way in a “post pop” place. Sure, it doesn’t sound as innovative or new as the late David Bowie’s “Blackstar,” but it has a place in today’s dialogue anyway.

The album’s tones and musical ideas don’t sound like they come from 2016. There is a classic feel to the combination of the shredded guitar and Pop’s defined and twanging vocals. He sounds mature in “Post Pop Depression,” but also like the conviction in his voice will ring eternally. All the passion and love for what he does is still there.

This is appropriate, given that Iggy Pop has described the theme of the album to The New York Times as being, “What happens after your years of service? And where is the honor?”

The production of “Post Pop Depression” sounds crisper than ever. The steely guitar of Josh Homme, Iggy Pop’s partner in crime for the album, is incredibly distinctive and clear. There are some incredibly powerful and memorable moments, the middle of “German Days” and beginning of “Sunday” come to mind, where Homme’s instrumental ability shines over the vocals of Iggy, a rare feat in itself.

It’s fun. It’s bouncy. It rocks (pardon the pun). It’s also kind of a lot to think about. It’s Iggy Pop dealing with something that everyone eventually has to encounter — getting older and finding his place in the world as an aging rock star.

“Where is American Valhalla / Death is the pill that’s tough to swallow” he sings on “American Valhalla.” “I’m not the man with everything / I’ve nothing, but my name.”

It’s hard not to sympathize with Iggy Pop over the course of “Post Pop Depression.” It’s not the world that’s in a post-pop depression, it’s Iggy Pop himself who’s in a depression over his feeling of no longer having a place.

Perhaps the most sympathetic and haunting moment comes in “Vulture,” when Pop sings about a fat vulture flying above the road waiting for his victim, and next meal, to die.

“If he gets near / Your bones he’ll clear / He’ll jump your bandwagon / ‘Til it’s your corpse he’s draggin’” he sings.

The final moment of the final track, “Paraguay,” exhibits a monologue of his desire to retreat from society. He wants to escape the s— he sees around him to a place where “people are still human beings.” It’s a powerful note to end on.

It’s a culmination of Iggy Pop’s convictions that are spread over the album, and he releases them in one last cathartic explosion of anger. You can almost picture him after the song, breathing heavily and red-faced but with an enormous weight lifted from his shoulders.

The juxtaposition of the indelibly fun instrumentals, though they slide toward serious as the album progresses, and the weight of Iggy Pop’s vocals make for a memorable album at the very least. And, in a way, isn’t that an answer to his question?

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