Iggy Pop – Free
For all but the most hardcore Iggy Pop fans, Free will baffle as much as it bewitches
At just ten tracks long, three of which clock in at around two minutes, you would expect the new record from the former Stooges frontman to be as fat-free as the 72-year-old himself is. Unfortunately, those expecting the fire and fury of his still-superlative live shows may find themselves disappointed.
His last record (2016’s star-studded Post Pop Depression) had the misfortune to come out on the heels of Bowie’s triumphal Blackstar, a record with which it shared similarly dark sentiments, a willingness to innovate and even a shared appreciation for the textural possibilities of the saxophone. This time, Iggy seems to be casting for similar terrain.
There's more fuzzed-up sax and a lugubrious pace, as if the septuagenarian star is happy playing about with whatever ideas pop into his head on a Miami evening. Ahead of the release of Free, he has said that “this album just kind of happened to me, and I let it happen”. With its gently drifting musical backdrops and ambiguous freeform lyrics, Free sometimes feel as if it needs a steadier hand on the tiller.
The opening interlude finds the singer intoning “I wanna be free” while Love Missing is a brittle but sedate slice of post-punk. Similarly, lead single James Bond is more Roger Moore than Daniel Craig; filmic licks and a grizzled croon replacing the Motor City yowl that Pop is best known for. Penultimate track Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night takes its title from the famous Dylan Thomas poem about raging against the dying of the light, but by now, Iggy Pop has earned the right to take it easy.
Unfortunately, for all but the hardcore, Free seems to baffle as much as it bewitches.
Listen to: James Bond