Surprisingly just okay
Though he never had as much commercial success as he deserved, Iggy Pop is a household name among rock fans. He was especially influential starting in the late 1960s with the rock band The Stooges, where his electric stage persona established the band as one of the leaders of the ‘proto-punk’ movement, which influenced many of the punk bands that burst onto the scene soon afterwards. The Stooges didn’t last very long (though they’ve reunited a few times), so Pop began to focus his efforts on solo work. He developed a friendship with David Bowie, which led to his two most commercially successful albums in the late ‘70s. That was the beginning in his songwriting shift, as Pop’s new reputation became that of an innovator and creative genius, unafraid to dip his toes into a variety of styles such as garage rock, new wave and even jazz. Now 72, Pop’s creative spirit remains just as vibrant, and he’s just released a new album titled Free.
The greatest thing about Iggy Pop is his lack of genre: no one can really predict where his mind will take him. Overall, Free can be described as pretty mellow in terms of mood, but that’s about the only box it can be classified into, as every song is different. Lead single “James Bond” is a weird fusion of 1950s rock and tango, with a be-bop trumpet solo. “Page” drowns Pop’s signature croon in reverb behind spacey synths and chiming guitars, while “We Are The People” and “The Dawn” both introduce spoken word to the party. The most fun, though, is the anti-pornography (I think?) anthem “Dirty Sanchez,” which features graphic lyrics about how Internet porn ‘enslaves’ the masses. Every one of those phrases features a call and response, plus a full horn section and catchy guitar riff. Some people could see the broader message as an anti-capitalist, but like most of Pop’s songs, it’s hard to pin down what he’s really thinking.
The issues Free runs into lies with the way the album was created. Pop claims it just ‘sort of happened,’ and at times it does feel rushed. The ideas have potential, but they could have done with a little more time and development. Ultimately, Pop’s fans will enjoy it, but he hasn’t outdone himself on this one.