Iggy Pop: Free (Loma Vista) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Iggy Pop

Free

Loma Vista

Sep 06, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Iggy Pop once said he likes his music offensive and has certainly spent the better part of his career doing just that. Now as a septuagenarian, the proto punk has made one of the year's most surprising and likable albums in Free: A slinky, jazz infused work, with a dose of poetry, dash of mariachi, held together by his wiry baritone and an astute take on current ills.

The 2003 Stooges reunion might have finally given Pop financial solvency but it was 2016's Post Pop Depression and his dalliance with Josh Homme that helped him achieve his highest charting album to date. It debuted on the American top 20 and top 5 in the UK; re-igniting a newfound appreciation for Pop and introducing him to a broader audience and younger generation. It was sold as a swan song of sorts but instead ushered a prolific new era of projects and inspiration for Pop.

With the end of its tour, Pop has announced a new book of lyrics, launched his own signature coffee—with proceeds going to Girls Rock Camp Alliance, no less—appeared in Jim Jamusch's zom-com The Dead Don't Die, and also found the time to join Underworld for the Teatime Dub Sessions EP.

Pop refuses to ossify and rest on his legacy, Free sees him with new companions: jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas and Noveller, the solo project of Brooklyn guitarist/filmmaker Sarah Lipstate. Opener "Free" is an atmospheric, dream sequence that sounds like a whale song, heralded by the trumpet and a solitary line "I wanna be free, free." After that mission statement, he totes out "Loves Missing," a dependable rock song with crunchy guitars and propulsive drums. "Sonali," with it's languid intro, leads to a stream of consciousness rambling about parking woes-garden variety arguments that might erupt in a car when one has left it too late to get to a destination. It can function as an updated companion piece to 1977's "The Passenger," off Lust For Life; evoking a more somnambulistic mood as he sings curiously "Do like the Romans/Pop melatonin." A metaphor perhaps for how we can sleepwalk through life "staying in our lanes;" never daring to try anything bold or brave-more poignant now, when Rome appears to be falling as the vandals continue to wreak havoc in the White House.

The cheeky "James Bond" usurps mainstream patriarchy and cedes the role of hero to a woman—with guest vocals by Faith Vern of PINS, sounding very much like Miss Moneypenny. Written by Thomas, it features a low-slung bass-led melody and crackles with surf guitar riffs.

"Dirty Sanchez" is Pop flipping the bird—a rant about online porn and where he figures in that culture of toxic masculinity; "Just because I like big tits, doesn't mean I like big dicks." It's bookended with bawdy Mariachi horns—convivial and irresistible. Then the album changes tack: "Glow in the Dark" is a pep talk in disguise—"positive thoughts make a brighter you" and "If we want silver and gold and pearls, everybody has to play their role"—espousing utopian ideals.

The album closes with three poems. Unlike his Underworld feature, sentiments here aren't whiny but erudite. His cadence is taut, like his thoughts, invoking us to "rage and not go gently into the night" borrowing words from Dylan Thomas, with the scowl of Bukowski. More importantly like Bukowski, Pop has a similar affinity with the common classes and he too couldn't give a toss what we think of his hard or softer side. He's earned his privilege to be free. (www.iggypop.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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