Album review: Iggy Pop – Every Loser

The Godfather Of Punk, Iggy Pop, bites back on glorious 19th album…

Album review: Iggy Pop – Every Loser
James Hickie

Rumours of Iggy Pop’s creative demise have been exaggerated for some years now. In the build up to the release of 2016’s Post Pop Depression, for instance, the man born James Newell Osterberg, Jr. suggested it was to be his final offering. Yet here we are, seven years and two records later, and according to a recent interview, the only thing Iggy is retiring from is stage-diving, because he considers himself “too rickety” to partake.

While the 75-year-old is making some physical concessions to age (even if he continues to strip to the waist whenever possible) his recent output has showcased a mind still vibrant with ideas: reflective but often raunchy, artful yet sometimes asinine. As such, his last three full-length efforts act as a microcosm of a career spanning almost 60 years, full of wild swings and bends in the road.

So while the Josh Homme-produced Post Pop Depression was a lesson in melancholic garage rock, 2019’s Free was a more somber affair, contemplating the frazzled afterglow of post-tour life. The latter record includes a reading of the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, featuring the line ‘Old age should burn and rave at close of day’, which Iggy has put into glorious practice on Every Loser.

He’s done so with the help of Andrew Watt, whose recent work with Ozzy illustrates the producer’s adeptness with fanning the flames of legends, alongside a trusted stable of luminaries including Duff McKagan, Chad Smith and, bittersweetly, Taylor Hawkins. The results find Iggy being more wrinkled and violent than shrinking violet, playfully recalling his tenure with The Stooges, with the man who famously called himself ‘a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm’ now reminds us, via opening track Frenzy, that he has ‘a dick and two balls, that’s more than you all’.

This isn’t a full-blown punk rock regression, though – it’s a more refined and diverse set than that. Strung Out Johnny finds Iggy nimbly surfing New Wave; the superb New Atlantis flirts with folk; Morning Show treads a line between a ballad and a hymn. As ever, these songs arrive festooned with grizzled poetry, some of which tackles the topics of the day. Comments explores the toxicity of fame and the blight of online trolls with oddball panache, as Iggy recommends you ‘Sell your stock in Zuckerberg and run / Buy a passport to the end of fun’.

Every Loser is superb. But more importantly it encapsulates Iggy’s essence, not by reframing for a modern audience or pandering to trends, but drawing out the timeless qualities of its author: his anger, his sense of wonder and romance, and his downright strangeness. You’d be hard-pressed to find an album catering for more moods in 2023. Live in it – it’s a hell of a place to be.

Rating: 4/5

For fans of: David Bowie, Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters

Every Loser is out now via Gold Tooth / Atlantic

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