“I’m gonna break into your heart. I’m gonna crawl under your skin”. It’s with these lines that Iggy Pop chose to start off his latest/last album. An interesting mission statement for a 68 rock icon releasing what could very well be his swan song. Whose heart is Pop looking to break into? And why would he even feel such a need at what might be the last days of a long and glories life?
Taken at face value the opening track of “Post Pop Depression” could sound like any other stalkery love song we’ve heard a hundred times (Sting’s Every Move you Make comes to mind), but once added to the rest of the album it becomes clear that what the lizard king of punk has done here is create an audio biography charting the span of his long career, and he’s telling it directly to “you” the listener.
With the help of Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and add support form Dean Fertita also of Queens’ and Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders, Pop revisits the crucial points of his life from a hungry and ambitious youth to where he is today in his twilight years. The result is an album that sound 70% queens of the stone age, 30% arctic monkeys but 100% Iggy Pop.
The opening track “Break into your Heart” may be about the forces that drive a man to change his name and spend his every waking moment of his life searching for acceptance, and not a plea to a potential lover.
The first single released from the album, “Gardenia”, might be about Pop’s obsession with a woman of the night with a flower and her hair and a great ass, but can also be can be interpreted as a song about the creative process and looking for control over your muse. In the song Pop searches for a woman he refers to as both a goddess and a dream – like an addict needing his fix of inspiration.
“German Days” is a look back at Iggy’s early days in Berlin. Days filled with sex, drugs and David Bowie.
Bowie, who produced Pops most acclaimed albums: “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life” is felt throughout the album though of no fault of his own.
Bowie’s death not long before the album’s release and the fact the Bowie’s last album ★ was a farewell album created by an artist who knew he was dying throws a major spotlight on Post Pop Depression and the way it is meant to be heard.
Pop is perhaps the last of his generation with greats like Bowie, Lou Reed and Lemmy Kilmister all passing recently, and so it comes as no surprise that death and mortality are dominant themes in his album as well.
Perhaps most effective is “American Valhalla” in which Pop searches for his version of heaven after a long and eventful life and asks the question: where do rock stars go when they grow old?
Another question raised by the song is one about Pop’s very own identity.” I’m not the man with everything. I’ve nothing, but my name” Pop tells the listener, but which name is that? Is the artist at the end of the day nothing more than the man he was born as, James Osterberg, or has the alias Iggy Pop taken over completely to become all that he has?
The answer to that question might be found in the albums final song – Paraguay.
“Wild animals they do.
Never wonder why.
Just do what they goddamn do”.
So sings the band at the song’s top and thus gives us all the information we ever needed to know about Iggy Pop. It doesn’t matter what name he goes by and it’s no longer about “breaking into your heart”. It’s about a force stronger than you, it’s about nature.
Pop in his lyrics to this song comes out as a man near the end of his life who lives for himself and wants to get away from it all to a place where people still have souls. Pop wants to escape the rock star life, corporate vultures ( as is evident in the song Vulture) but mostly from the music consumer himself. In an impassioned verbal assault Pop once again speaks directly to “you” just like in the first song, but this time the tone is completely different.
“I’ve had enough of you” says Pop, and ads “Yeah, I’m talking to you” so there is no doubt who it is he is addressing:
“I’m gonna go to Paraguay
To live in a compound under the trees
With servants and bodyguards who love me
Free of criticism
Free of manners and mores
I wanna be your basic clod
Who made good
And went away while he could
To somewhere where people are still human beings
Where they have spirit
You take your motherfucking laptop
And just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth
And down your shit heel gizzard
You fucking phony two faced three timing piece of turd
And I hope you shit it out
With all the words in it
And I hope the security services read those words
And pick you up and flay you
For all your evil and poisonous intentions
Because I’m sick
And it’s your fault
And I’m gonna go heal myself now
Pop yearns for a simpler time when music was made as an act of nature and not as a product of a well oiled industry. When music was carved from the soul and not as a means of gaining fame and fortune. But mostly he misses a day when music the music consumers would simple feel the music and not criticize and prod every track. Like I just did.