ALBUMS: The Big, Dumb Fun of Iggy Pop’s New LP

Every Loser finds the 75-year-old Detroit icon rowdier than ever

Iggy Pop at 75 (Image: Atlantic Records)

You’ve got to give Iggy Pop credit – at 75 years old, he has no reason to prove his punk worth.

And the stoking of that desire is largely responsible for the existence of Every Loser, Pop’s 19th solo studio album. Cut with super-producer du jour Andrew Watt (and released on Watt’s own Gold Tooth Records imprint through Atlantic), the album is mostly a big, dumb, fun mess. For better and worse. 

Eschewing the maturity of 2019’s Free, this album is light on James Osterberg and heavy on Iggy – it’s a bit disconcerting to hear a 75-year-old man talk about his “dick and two balls” (more than one song makes mention of Pop’s notoriously prodigious member), but Iggy sells it through sheer force of will.


Artist: Iggy Pop

Album: Every Loser

Label: Gold Tooth/Atlantic Records

★★★1/2 (3.5/5 stars) 


But you don’t really come to an Iggy Pop record looking for trenchant insight, do ya?  You want to see the (former?) lead Stooge rage and flail with arrested developmental abandon. And he delivers in spades here. The lyrics are filthy, the subjects largely low-brow and filled with easy targets (though getting Travis Barker to play on the class of ’77-indebted “Neo Punk” – a song about bourgeois, celebrity cash-ins with lyrics like, “Got a custom Rolls Royce, I’m a neo punk” – is perversely brilliant). Lyrically, this is the Iggy of Beat ‘Em Up and Naughty Little Doggie, not Lust for Life or even Zombie Birdhouse. 

Iggy Pop Every Loser, Gold Tooth/Atlantic Records 2023

Aided and abetted by a coterie of famous friends including current and former members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and one of the last performances from the late Taylor Hawkins, the heavy songs chug along nicely and it is clear that Iggy himself is having a lot of fun – the laugh and whoop after the music stops on “Neo Punk” is brimming with joy. His sneer and wavering baritone sound no worse for wear than they did ten or twenty or even thirty years ago. Pop’s voice is really a magnificent instrument, and you never get the sense that he is phoning it in. As a contemporary put it, he really means it maaaaan!

So, why does the album feel decidedly “lo-cal”? Much of the blame has to be laid at the feet of Watt. His production style (honed by time in the trenches with pop artists like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus) ensures that even the sleaziest numbers have a high-gloss sheen, and the slower numbers sometimes end up sounding like so-so Brick By Brick outtakes. The 80s synths that power second single “Strung Out Johnny” come across like a less-dangerous (and successful) version of what Pop accomplished with Josh Homme on 2016’s late-career highlight Post Pop Depression.

 

AUDIO: Iggy Pop “Morning Show”

Meanwhile, the spoken word-over-Ween interlude (one of two on the record), “The News For Andy”, is just plain embarrassing. Andrew Watt has found success in his recent collaborations with Ozzy Osbourne and Eddie Vedder, though arguably both artists sound better buttressed by beefed up production. The Iggster deserves a bit more scuffing up.

And even though it clocks in at just over 36 minutes, the album feels padded.  Not overly long, per se, but also not always necessary.  There is a very fine EP or even “mini-album” in here, that with a more sympathetic sonic ear would satisfy hardcore Iggy fans.

But this is what we’ve got, and if it’s prodded Pop to reconsider his retirement and continue to stroke his id, then keep it coming!

 

 

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