Iggy Pop - “Free” Album Review

Story posted September 10, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Scott Perdue

The legendary Iggy Pop is back with his eighteenth studio album “Free.” While not by any means his best work, Pop’s latest record marks a significant shift in his career.

Arguably best known for his iconic collaborative albums “The Idiot” and “Lust For Life” with the magnificent David Bowie, Pop has left an everlasting mark on the glam rock and punk rock genres. Immediately recognizable for his distinctive voice and wild stage antics, Pop has always been a musician who defied the rules of performance. His latest effort once again takes a drastically different turn and provides his listeners with a mashup of spoken-word poetry and punk rock tracks that reflect some of Pop’s feelings of fleeting purpose for his own musical endeavors.

After finishing the tour for his noteworthy previous album “Post Pop Depression,” which almost acted as a sort of comeback effort, Pop has expressed his exhaustion from the touring process. He has stated that this latest release is as an effort to funnel his frustrations into a musical project as a way to work through his fatigue. While not executed the best, Pop’s efforts to provide his audience with a glimpse into the life of an exhausted and drained musician are admirable.

Opening with the soft and transparent “Free,” Pop tells the listener from the jump that he is ready to pack things up and give himself a rest. Pop hangs a few lines of spoken word poetry within a foreboding and blissful ambiance, which prepares the listener for the slow burn of a journey that Pop attempts to drag the listener through.

The next track “Loves Missing” is the closest fans will get to any shred of reminiscence of Pop’s glorious West Berlin years. The lyrics unfortunately exhibit a borderline toothless version of Pop’s classic punk rock bite, but the haunting soundscapes and guitars make up for some of the song’s missteps.

The next couple tracks “Sonali” and “James Bond” are barely able to escape being considered throwaway tracks. “Sonali” has some interesting grooves attached to it, but nothing is particularly memorable. The lead single “James Bond” feels like it could have been a classic Iggy Pop brand track, but it ends up amounting to nothing more than an admittedly catchy yet lackluster pop song.

The album really begins to hit an unfortunate down spiral with the next two tracks “Dirty Sanchez” and “Glow in the Dark.” “Dirty Sanchez” is the worst offender on the record. Pop’s decision to incorporate a grating call-and-response style into the track causes it to develop into nothing more than a muddied and sloppy mess. The track “Glow in the Dark” is not much better. Once again, Pop provides a song with seemingly no meaning implanted in its lyrics, which causes the album to drag even slower than before and absolutely eliminates any chance of revisiting potential.

The next track “Page” is a sort of self-admission from Pop that he is aware of his lacking presentation. With lyrics such as, “And to you I’m just an artifact/And still you blame me for the soundtrack,” Pop, in a surprisingly charming way, confesses that he is tired of the music industry and is unsure what his next steps should be.

Pop’s willingness to admit that he feels as if he is somewhat dead in the water is honestly fairly noble. For a man who has contributed so much to music, whose influence is unmistakably present in so many bands of his time and modern times, admitting that he fears becoming irrelevant is a fairly bold statement.

The final moments of the album devolve into an almost open-mic presentation of some of Pop’s spoken-word poetry pieces, which, in their own right, are all fairly interesting features. “We Are the People” even lists a writing credit from the late legendary Lou Reed. While the closing of the record doesn’t exactly exhibit any of Pop’s classic exiting flare, it feels like a satisfying finish for an otherwise hard-to-traverse album.

Overflowing with transparency, “Free” exhibits a conflicted Pop who seems to not know where his next move should be. At the age of 72, Pop seems to be reflecting on what has been a rollercoaster of a career. He has dealt with splashes of acclaim as well as his fair share of lack of relevance, and it appears that he has become tired of it all. Pop’s attempt to utilize “Free” as a vehicle to express all of his frustrations and passions for the music industry just doesn’t quite come together as successfully as it could have.

Without a doubt a noble effort for such a legend of the industry, “Free” unfortunately doesn’t quite provide enough to keep listeners coming back for more. Even though the album may be one of Pop’s most self-conscious and honest, “Free” ends up being bland instead of gripping. Hopefully on future releases, Pop will be able to regain his footing, as he did with his previous release “Post Pop Depression,” and spawn more music that is in touch with his punk and glam rock roots.

Rating: 4/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Loves Missing”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Dirty Sanchez”

 

Scott Perdue is a junior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.