At virtually the exact centre point of Post Pop Depression, halfway through the track “Sunday”, Iggy Pop lets slip the observation that “This job is a masquerade of recreation”.
It’s a telling moment: an indication that, despite all his apparently id-related indulgences, for Iggy rock music remains a calling with serious intentions and serious consequences, an occupation in which one can, under the cover of entertainment, smuggle in more meaningful concerns – at its most extreme, it can be philosophy masquerading as recreation.
In general, once past the initial revolutionary blurt of the early Stooges albums, Iggy’s always been at his best when channelling his power into these serious themes, from the existential motorik of “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life”, to the dark ruminations upon degraded imperial power in 1993’s American Caesar.
Music festivals guide 2016
Music festivals guide 2016
Where: Bansko Ski Resort, Bulgaria When: 12-17 March Price: From £175 Line Up: Âme, Goldie, Nina Kraviz, John Talabot, Lady Leshurr, Craig Charles
2/20 Live At Leeds
Where: Leeds, UK When: 30 April Price: £32.50 Line Up: Jess Glynne, Circa Waves, Mystery Jets, Band of Skulls, We Are Scientists
3/20 Primavera Sound
Where: Barcelona, Spain When: 1-5 June Price: €175 Line Up: Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Sigur Rós, PJ Harvey, Tame Impala, Beach House, Suede, The Last Shadow Puppets
4/20 Best Kept Secret
Where: Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands When: 17-19 June Price: €147.50 Line Up: Beck, Editors, Two Door Cinema Club, Beach House, Bloc Party, Caribou, Half Moon Run
Best Kept Secret Festival
Where: Worthy Farm, Somerset When: 22-26 June Price: £220 Line Up: Coldplay, Muse, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, PJ Harvey, Jess Glynne (TBC)
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark When: 25 June-2 July Price: 2,020 DKK Line Up: LCD Soundsystem, New Order, PJ Harvey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foals, Tame Impala, Savages, Skepta, Tenacious D
Simon Frøsig Christensen / Roskilde Festival
7/20 Hideout Festival
Where: Zrce Beach, Croatia When: 26-30 June Price: From £152.90 Line Up: The Martinez Brothers, Joris Voorn, Waze & Odyssey
8/20 Bilbao BBK
Where: Bilbao, Spain When: 7-9 July Price: From £69 Line Up: Arcade Fire, Pixies, Tame Impala, Foals, New Order, Hot Chip, Father John Misty, Years & Years, Wolf Alice
Where: Gdynia, Poland When: 29 July-2 August Price: From €130 Line Up: Bastille, Florence + the Machine, Foals, LCD Soundsystem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The 1975, The Last Shadow Puppets, Wiz Khalifa
10/20 Electric Love
Where: Plainfeld, Austria When: 7-9 July Price: €119 Line Up: Alesso, Zedd, Tiesto, Chase & Status, Steve Aoki, Knife Party
Where: Ferropolis, Germany When: 15-17 July Price: From €136 Line Up: Two Door Cinema Club, Disclosure, Jamie xx, Sleaford Mods, Skepta, Jamie Woon
Where: Budapest, Hungary When: 10-17 August Price: From €215 Line Up: Bastille, Bloc Party, M83, Sigur Ros, Bring Me the Horizon
Where: Helsinki, Finland When: 12-14 August Price: €165 Line Up: Sia, New Order, The Last Shadow Puppets, Jamie xx, M83, Chvrches, Four Tet, Stormzy, Daughter, The Kills
Flow Festival / Jussi Hellsten
14/20 Rock En Seine
Where: Paris, France When: 26-28 August Price: From €119 Line Up: TBC
Where: Marrakech, Morocco When: 16-18 September Price: From €110 Line Up: Bicep, Derrick May, Tale of Us, Dixon, Dusky, Hunee
Where: Henham Park, Suffolk When: 14-17 July Price: £205.50 Line Up: The Maccabees, The National, New Order, John Grant, Beirut, Father John Misty, Chvrches, Grimes
Where: Robin Hill, Isle of Wight When: 8-11 September Price: £190 Line Up: The Cure, Major Lazer, Hot Chip, Fatboy Slim, Craig David, Years & Years, Wolf Alice, Tourist, Katy B
18/20 Isle of Wight
Where: Newport, Isle of Wight When: 9-12 June Price: From £186 Line Up: Queen + Adam Lambert, Stereophonics, Faithless, Iggy Pop, Adam Ant, Buzzcocks, Sigma, Jess Glynne
Where: Victoria Park, London When: 17 July Price: From £54 Line Up: Sigur Rós, Caribou, Lianne La Havas, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
20/20 End of the Road
Where: Larmer Tree Gardens When: 2-4 September Price: £195 Line Up: Joanna Newsom, The Shins, Animal Collective, Bat for Lashes, Teenage Fanclub, Devendra Banhart, Savages, Cat's Eyes
Frustratingly, he’s often lapsed back into juvenile tat like Naughty Little Doggie, though recent releases like Après and Préliminaires – the latter inspired by a Michel Houellebecq novel – have found him exploring jazz-crooner territory far from rock’n’roll of any stripe.
So it’s a relief to find him returning to hard rock music with Post Pop Depression, and serious about it again, apparently broaching the issue of “what happens when your utility is at an end”.
The album was produced by Josh Homme, lured into collaboration via intriguing text messages from the singer.
Joined in the desert studio at Joshua Tree by Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age bandmate Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, they crafted an album by turns terse, sinuous and playful, streaked with disgust and delight in roughly equal measure.
“American Valhalla” is the obvious centrepiece, Iggy wrestling with notions of nobility and death, legacy and life’s work, ultimately reaching the conclusion, once the track has concluded, that “I’ve nothing but my name”.
Musically, it’s an odd piece, opening with marimba tinkling a sort of gamelan chinoiserie, but soon crunching into a rugged bass groove that rolls like tank-tracks through the song.
It’s not the only case here of songs changing direction part-way through: the aformentioned “Sunday” proceeds with stylishly-wrought, chunky panache, its rolling funk-metal riff slashed with tart guitars, until the last 90 seconds, when it slips into wistful waltz-time orchestration, as if you’ve returned to the wrong room to find pensioners at a tea-dance.
He’s not, one surmises, a particularly satisfied man, something that comes across caustically in the virulent contempt of “In the Lobby”, an expression of his desperate desire to escape the empty conformity of socialising (“It’s all about the hang”) for something more satisfying. “I follow my shadow tonight,” he observes, and who could blame him?
“German Days”, presumably a reference to his mid-Seventies European sojourn with Bowie, is another Janus-faced track, its terse, jackhammer guitar intro giving way to a loping, swingy groove as Iggy croons like some suave madman.
But eventually the album ends up in another continent entirely, with the singer fantasising about escaping to “Paraguay”. “I’m goin’ where sore losers go,” he proclaims, gaily trilling “tra-la-la” in anticipation; but there’s something else driving his impulse, as the lyric lingers in appreciation of wild animals’ instinctive lives, unmediated by morality or manners, before the tracks ends with Iggy fulminating angrily against everyone.
It’s as if he’s grown so sick and tired of the veneers of respectability cocooning American sensibilities that, reverting to type once more, he wants to be your dog again.