The ‘Godfather of Punk’ returns with experimental 18th album

Category:  The Arts
Friday, September 20th, 2019 at 11:10 AM
The ‘Godfather of Punk’ returns with experimental 18th album by Rhiannon Pushchak

Iggy Pop is someone who will never not be unapologetically himself. His 18th release, “Free,” is one that combines Iggy’s trademark vocals and raw production with the addition of horns and soundscapes, something he has dabbled with before in previous albums (“Lust for Life,” “The Idiot,” “Soldier,” “New Values”). Here though, it’s definitely a departure from his primal, animalistic, proto-punk sounds of his classic Stooges works, as well as his solo works and the close collaborations with David Bowie.

Iggy Pop is no stranger to experimentation in his albums, one of which is sung almost completely in French and in ’30s to ’40s crooner style.

“Free,” meanwhile, is completely different from all of these things. The record isn’t as angry as you would expect from someone like him, but that only means he can bend and blend genres, recruiting new unlikely fans in the process. Despite being known for his destructive stage antics, Iggy Pop is fantastic at singing heartfelt tracks, while throwing some of his dark humor in there too (the track “Dirty Sanchez” is a great example of this).

Something in this album that really blew me away were the spoken word tracks at the end. The eighth track, titled “We Are The People,” was taken from discarded poetry from late musician and close friend Lou Reed, formerly of The Velvet Underground (a band around in the late ’60s that had just as much influence on the emerging punk scene as The Stooges did). The poem is extremely relevant today despite it being written in the ’70s, but it never saw the light of day until now. This line in particular stood out: “We are the crystal gaze returned through the density and immensity of a berzerk nation.”

Pop, and Reed especially, have voiced their stances on politics in recent years, in a way becoming liberal role models (take Iggy’s cover of “Louie, Louie” for example). The poem is profound and mournful of what has become of the place we call home. This ties into the album title, as well. The album has a theme of yearning for something better, wanting to be “free.”

Going back to the beginning of the record, it opens with a strange synthesized soundscape, complete with a beautiful horn solo as Iggy repeats, “I wanna be free.” The track then fades out and my favorite song from the record begins.

“Loves Missing” is about a girl feeling as though she has been beaten down and torn apart by love, something that resonated very deeply with me. I’m a sucker for songs that make me feel like the writer heard my heartbreak, and this is definitely one of them. Iggy Pop has always been a favorite of mine for many reasons, and for him to speak to someone like me in a fashion that is so out-of-character for him is truly amazing.
Another standout track on “Free” is the lead single, “James Bond.” It’s an extremely infectious listening experience with a driving bass line that makes it impossible not to dance to. The track sounds as though it would belong in a spy movie, making the title of the song fitting.

The record as a whole is a very beautiful thing, blending jazz fusion and experimentalism, but keeping it very much an Iggy Pop record. Before this album was announced, he had said he wasn’t really interested in performing anymore, but I guess Iggy had the itch once again.

Tags: music, art

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