Originally published on Feb. 13th at: The Tim “Napalm” Stegall Substack
“Got a dick an’ 2 balls/That’s more than you all!” Politically incorrect to the bone and unrepentant, these are the first two lines you hear after a blast of Stooges-esque guitar, including a dose of satisfying amplifier hum. Welcome to Every Loser, Iggy Pop’s 19th studio album, and first in four years, interestingly released on January 6th. But this is good. Now that date can signify something positive.
Most heartening is that punk’s 75-year-old founding father chose to release a balls-out rock ‘n’ roll record, something he really hasn’t done since Iggy And the Stooges’ 2013 swansong Ready To Die. That is, unless you count 2016’s throwback to his David Bowie-produced solo work, Post Pop Depression. This, after a few Iggy albums seemingly aimed at recasting him as a cabaret crooner. It’s good to hear the man rock in his brilliantly unhinged manner once more.
Interestingly, producer Andrew Watt seems to have perched this as a cross between the Stooges’ kamikaze protopunk and the more subtle futurism of The Idiot and Lust For Life. So you get diving-face-first-into-the-third-row Stooge-rockers like “Frenzy” (that “dick an’ 2 balls” opener) and “Modern Day Rip-Off” alternated with atmospheric Euro-rockers such as “New Atlantis” and “Morning Show.” Although final cut “The Regency” combines the two modes, with nuanced verses alternating with a bashed-out chorus: “FUCK THE REGENCY! FUCK THE REGENCY! FUCK THE REGENCY UP!” Which makes for an epic set closer.
Watt hand-crafted these individual tracks for Iggy, expecting him to add lyrics and vocal melodies over the course of several months, with no pressure or deadlines to meet. Interestingly, like many a modern pop record (which Watt has made a name on), the songwriting is credited to everyone who played on each track, the sorta songwriting-by-committee old curmudgeons bitch about when any music biz awards show hands out Song Of The Year trophies to 16 people. That these are varying groups of four or five musicians per track cuts down the unwieldiness considerably. The crew consists mostly of musicians Iggy either knows (the late Taylor Hawkins, Dave Navarro, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith) or has worked with before (Duff McKagan). Hence all these individuals know to tailor this music to his wide-ranging aesthetics. They are working for a boss named Iggy Pop, and they deliver.
Iggy delivers, too. Many times in the past, he’s stood before a mic in the studio and improvised his lyrics. Sometimes, it works brilliantly. As consistent as these words and vocals hit the ear, it’s obvious they’re as finely wrought as the musical beds. It probably helps that he’s pondering some substantial subject matter, whether it’s the echoes of his long-gone junkie days reprised in “Strung-Out Johnny” or the mockery of modern day stock-portfolios-and-swimming-pools “punk rockers” in “Neo-Punk” (hilariously featuring the drumming of that bunch’s poster boy, Travis Barker).
Even Iggy confessed that he didn’t think he had another nitro-burning rock ‘n’ roll album left in him at age 75. So to get as solid an album as Every Loser out of him is an absolute joy. Thanks, Iggy!
– Tim Stegall