Sunday, 13 November 2016

Post Pop Depression

Phew. Been a while since I did one of these. But here it goes:

Post Pop Depression

Ok, I know this album came out on March 18th and we’re approaching its 8 month anniversary so that is how I’m framing this blog! It’s a celebration of its 8 month birthday! What spurred me to write this was the release of the Post Pop Depression Live at Albert Hall. But the album itself is an album worth celebrating. With the loss thus far this year of such magical storytellers such as Bowie and Cohen and musicians in the last twelve months like Prince and Lemmy, Pop is a remaining legend in the storytellers grouping and deserves wordly recognition. Honestly, I never listened to him much prior to this album. I knew his ‘hits’, I knew of his band with the stooges, but I never paid attention to his work or words. He is 50 years in the music industry. That is incredible. His longevity is incredible in an industry known for its artist’s excesses, the cut-throat nature of the industry itself.

For those who are unaware, the album is a collaboration between Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and LA multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (also currently QotSA). It is Joshua Homme that brought this album to my attention as I follow his work as closely as I can. Anything he touches musically is so so awesome thanks to his ability to evolve his sounds and output. He is smoothness personified in my opinion, his music is like silk to my ears. Even …Like Clockwork, the Queens last output, it dealt with themes of life and death. It was dark. It was heavy. It was supreme. But Homme still makes it 100% listenable. Pop is the essence of 70’s punk: Brash, outlandish, a voice filled with life and experience. But this album is him at his most thoughtful. As NME succinctly put it, this album is a coming together of these two musical deities and their skills: “Brilliantly, that’s what ‘Post Pop Depression’ actually sounds like. Iggy’s vocals and lyrics are astounding – he’s like an angry young man all over again, and is far more gnarly and potent than any of his contemporaries”

Ok. Let’s break down the songs.
1.     Break Into Your Heart
Pop doesn’t need to slowly break you into his style. He just goes for it. The moment I heard the first 0:22 seconds are just so memorable. Iggy with a haunting sounding guitar behind his painfully somber lyrics [emphasis is mine]:

“I’m gonna break into YOUR heart,
I’m gonna crawl under YOUR skin,
I’m gonna break into YOUR heart,
And follow. Till I see where you begin. “

They’re hauntingly beautiful, matching the guitar. Then we get the first taste of the collaboration. Matt’s drums throughout are tight. Dean’s bass is heavy, thumping, rhythmic, mesmerizing. The song as a whole just grips you and pulls you in.

2.     Gardenia
This is my favourite song on the album. I just find the music so uplifting after the emotional journey that was Break Into Your Heart. Wonderfully melodic chords, a perfect balance of clear music and Iggy’s voice. Josh’s backing lyrics add to the songs balance. Iggy’s ‘matter-of-fact story telling come to the fore massively here.
“America’s greatest living poet / was ogling you all night / you SHOULD BE WEARING THE FINEST GOWN.”
The subject is admonished for not looking her best for her ‘oogler’. It’s musical narration at its finest.

3.     American Valhalla
Again, the drums and bass to bring us into this song are excellent. Then, just listen to Pop and Homme speak about this song, from the horses mouths so to speak!

My main takes from it are Josh pointing out that “If I have outlived my use, please take what’s left of me” is wonderfully emotive.

And I love Iggy’s coarse gravelly tones nakedly uttering “I’ve nothing, but my name” are haunting and desolate. The writer is at the end, realising that at the exact moment before death, we carry nothing but our name.

Lyrically, it’s sinister, dark. . .  impending

4.     In The Lobby
The different tones running through this song are interesting. Musically, the sounds are a little erratic, high pitched solos alongside an increasing fragility of the writers mind on each of the “And I hope I’m not losing my life tonight”
From near spoken, to a slightly upwardly lilting to full on panic.
The messages of mortality are ones that run through a lot of the songs, if not all songs on this album.

5.     Sunday
A lovely funky riff and drums open this song. Iggy’s lyrics are masterful and storyful. He is part of a musical artistic collective whose words are more than mere letters. They’re descriptive art pieces.
“this street is as cold as a corporate lawsuit.”
Incredible imagery.
Tying into the notion that in our corporate world, Sunday is just another day for them. For us it’s a day where we can say “fuck off! Don’t you know it’s Sunday?!” Iggy eloquently reminds us of this in the live album!

6.     Vulture
In an album dealing with a lot of questions around mortality, it seems fitting there’d be a song about the bird that feasts on the only thing we leave behind: our bodies. Again, wonderfully evocative lyrics provide a masterful imagery to us listeners:
“Vulture waiting
For a life to end
Proving the prophet
He's nobody's friend
If he gets near
Your bones he'll clear
He'll jump your bandwagon
'Til it's your corpse he's draggin'”

7.     German Days
In this song Iggy is reminiscing about Berlin when he was with his good friend Bowie. It’s again a song laced with mortality due to the subject written about.

8.     Chocolate Drops
The lyrics are dramatic, the backing vocals haunting. His words again resonate on many levels:

When is painful to express the things you feel (inside)
When it hurts to share because they're bare and real (so real)
So when everyday is judgement day, I won't pray (don't pray)
When there's none to share that empty chair, well okay (okay)”

He’s fighting to hang on, but understands that if there’s no one to share your burden with, it’s understandable how you might go in search of your own Valhalla. But he qualifies his understanding with a possible double entendre:

“There is nothing in the stars if You fail to move
There is nothing in the dark, it's just some old excuse
Hanging on, let it go”

He could mean ‘let the burden go. Untangle yourself. Be free.’
Or he could understand your letting go of just hanging on. Either way. It’s fascinatingly morbid.

9.     Paraguay

At 6:25, it is the longest song on the album. It is also an angry, I want to say diatribe, but it’s almost an oration of anger. It’s a fascinating trip from the writer attempting to lay the blame on his own feet for wanting to “pack [his] soul and scram”, to full on anger at the “they”; the realisation that “Out of the way I'll get away / Won't have to hear the things they say”, that fear is what drives people to feel this way. His anger builds monstrously thanks to his realisation that it’s ‘their’ fault:

“There's nothing awesome here
Not a damn thing
There's nothing "wow!"
Just a bunch of people, scared
Everybody's fuckin' scared
Fear eating all the souls at once
I'm tired of it
And I dreamed about gettin' away
To a new life
Where there's not so much fucking knowledge
I don't want any of this "information"
I don't want "you"
No, not anymore
I've had enough of "you"
Yeah I'm talking to "you"
I wanna go to Paraguay
Live in a compound under the trees
With servants and bodyguards who love me
Free of criticism
Free of manners and bores [?]
I wanna be your basic Clyde [?]
Who made good
And went away while he could
To somewhere where people are still human beings
Where they have spirit
You take mother-fucking laptop
Just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth
Down your shit-eating gizzard
You fuckin' phony two-faced, three-timing piece of turd
And I hope you shit it out with all the words in it
And I hope the security services read those words
And pick you up and flay you
For all your evil and poisonous intentions
Cause I'm sick and it's your fault
And I'm gonna go heal myself now.”

That last line is almost cathartic – he has mentally dealt with the shit in this mortal world. He’s cleansed of the crap. He’s ready for whatever is next on this life journey. On his terms.
It’s wonderfully poetic.

In conclusion, it’s an album where Iggy’s dangerousness and raw sexuality [are] meshing with Homme’s hypnotic guitar rock.
It’s poetic, it’s a trip through a thought process of what our mortality is and means to this fantastic mind.
Listen to it. Enjoy it. Breathe in his new lust for life.

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