It may be fair to say that the world is, in many respects, crashing down. In such a tumultuous year, we may look to the future with fear, while simultaneously seeking refuge in the past. Comforted by songs of happier days, we find solace for but a moment. But certain musical champions of the past have stood the test of time and broken into the future. Coming from an older world, their outlook on the future may be even bleaker than ours. If there is such an album to summarize the state of 2016, it is Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression. Brooding, woeful, and wailing, Iggy Pop is able, in this final album, to capture sentiments about the world that is beginning to forget him. The twilight hour for Iggy Pop is as much about the his personal finale as it is about pop music’s end, a lost sense of self, and the decline of America.
Post Pop Depression discusses sentiments that are commonplace in today’s age. Iggy explores his place in a world seemingly paying him little mind. “American Valhalla” best attests to the idea that there should be something more. The song, outside of its implications for Iggy, poses a question to us all in moments of transition. What is the next step? Is there a future for us? Something after?
Being Iggy Pop in 2016 is not as lucrative as being Iggy Azalea. These years have been categorized as ones when we are searching for who we are and where we are going. Though the lines “I’m gonna break into your heart / And follow till I see where you begin” in “Break into Your Heart” talk of exploring the depths of another person, they hold just as much meaning in searching for oneself. If Iggy Pop cannot find his American Valhalla and is losing himself, what chance do we have? When the modern guy loses his way, is there a hope of finding salvation?
This music also touches on a national implication. For America in this age, is there a higher rung on the ladder? After achieving a high level of fame or success, it would appear that, for individuals and nations, the only place to go is down. The lines “But if I outlived my use / Please drink my juice.” Though one cannot be sure what Iggy means by “juice,” it is reasonable to think that whatever he is selling, people are not buying. For the United States, on the world stage, a diminished influence is as unwelcome as it is unsettling.
The overarching themes on the album are wholly depressing and melancholy. Even when they err on a lighter side, the songs are laced with a strong undertone of the blues. This makes even the more upbeat songs like “Gardenia” end on, at best, bittersweet notes. It is refreshing to see an album devoid of a silver lining. Even when categorically sad, most modern albums are seeded with hope. Maybe this kind of raw and unapologetically downtrodden album could only come at the hands of an older, more worldly artist.
On an intersong level, the hand of one song drags the next to deeper, darker levels of self-despair. This makes for the instrumentals that end “Sunday,” met nicely by the opening strums of “Vulture.” These kinds of transitions reinforce this bleak attitude.
Post Pop Depression is one of the best of the year because it comes from an artist who is as intricately tied to the culture as ever. Even as his final strokes are laid on the page, he is espoused with as much emotional integrity as his former albums are.
Despite its somber tones, the album remains fun as it plays right into the hands of the disheartened. The feelings of a legendary entertainer and an everyday listener are one and the same. Through this shared experience, Iggy is able to point us in the right direction, though he has never made it, like Moses at the edge of the Promised Land. Though the lyrics may be dreary and his fractured voice may make us feel low, Post Pop Depression gives us the wherewithal to know that we hold the keys the the future. In a post-pop age, we are not on the horizon. We are the horizon.
In crucial times such as this, “Every day is judgement day.”
Featured Image By Loma Vista Recordings