by Ella Regan
It is no doubt that Iggy Pop has established himself as one of the pioneers of the 70’s punk scene. His career is a long one, with five studio albums released as frontman of the Stooges and no less than eighteen solo albums. He made his name in the punk scene with his visceral and aggressive sound, as well as his animalistic onstage performances – such as rolling around in broken glass after coating himself in peanut butter. After extensive commercial success with early Stooges classics like “I Wanna be Your Dog” and “Search and Destroy,” he branched out to pursue solo endeavors. His first two albums, The Idiot and Lust for Life, both produced by David Bowie in Berlin, sent Iggy down a path of maturity while continuing his popular anarchic persona. After amassing commercial success, he continued releasing sixteen more albums from the 80s all the way up to 2019, borrowing elements of new-wave, pop, and grunge. With a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a recently-earned Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award under his belt, one would imagine that at the age of 75, Iggy Pop’s career is one of the past. However, on Every Loser, while at times delivering solid tracks, he fails at efforts to blend mainstream pop sound with his trademark erratic style.
For his latest record Iggy enlists Andrew Watt, who’s produced for a wide range of artists from Justin Bieber to Ozzy Osbourne to Elton John. He also calls upon established figures in the rock world like Dava Navarro, Eric Avery, and Chris Chaney from Jane’s Addiction; Chad Smith of Red Hot Chilli Peppers; and the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, among others. The album begins with an energetic guitar soaked in overdrive. He begins by exclaiming, “I’ve got a dick and two balls/ That’s more than you all,” proving to the listener that despite his old age, he still keeps the vulgarity he was known for in his early career. He nods to his signature sound through heavier tracks, like “Neo-Punk,” “All the Way Down,” and “Modern Day Rip Off,” where he reminds us that “At least I’m still kicking.” The album also features more mellow tracks such as “New Atlantis,” which contains spoken word elements, and “Morning Show,” where he speaks about continuing to perform despite his ‘…insides have turned red.” Andrew Watt’s pop influence, meanwhile, is felt in more melodic tracks like “Comments” and “Strung Out Johnny.” While these songs attempt to appeal to more mainstream sound, they can’t help but sound dated, with artificial synths that sound like they came out of an 80s Wham! song. Questionable lyrical themes, like on “Neo-Punk” where he refers to himself as a “Hunky, Gucci model neo-punk,” raise question to how conscious he is of the fact he is no longer the magnetic wild-child that earned him his success. Successful artists such as Iggy Pop typically have two routes they can take when it comes to churning out albums at their old age and long after the height of their commercial success. They can continue to put out musical efforts with the maturity to acknowledge they can no longer rock like they used to, or they can try to keep up their heavy-rocker personality. In this instance, Iggy Pop goes for the latter. While Every Loser does contain nice instrumental odes to his earlier career, his attempts to appeal to mainstream pop drag the album down, as do his efforts to pull off the crude and irreverent attitude he flaunted decades ago.