Iggy Pop has always relied on the kindness of strangers. Take “Every Loser,” the new album from the garage-punk incarnation with mega-watt producer and multi-instrumentalist turned label magnet Andrew Watt, Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
Pop roots with producer and co-songwriter David Bowie (“The Idiot,” “Last for Life,” “Blah-Blah-Blah”), the Chris Stein-produced “Zombie Birdhouse” and his Josh Homme collab “Post Pop.” Depression like work,” Iggy’s candid, fresh solo album bristles with wild-eyed energy and new (old) ideas. It’s got the kind of enthusiasm and fun that pop can only get from fellow artists who worship IG and who just want to push the agenda of his witty, libidinal lyrics and mood-swing croon and cackle. (How libidinal? The first wild line we hear in “Every Loser” is “Got a dick and two balls, that’s more than you.” Classic Iggy.)
Watt (winner of the 2021 Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa and Post Malone) knows how to get into rock and its roughest spots and give it his usual rhythmic heft and glitzy vibe. . Debuts his Gold Tooth label venture via Atlantic with Pop and punches “Every Loser, Everybody’s a Winner” with youthful exuberance. Watt gets punk cred. And Iggy gets new playmates (including Travis Barker and Taylor Hawkins), a much-needed, au courant alt-rock that shines beyond his Ken Nordin-like sounding jazz excursions, and the taut, hard melodies through which his lizard charm works.
“World’s Most Forgotten Boy,” now a grizzled, tanned 75-year-old, has some of his Detroit teen-hood back, the raw energy that roared with the Stooges’ manic intensity—an 11-song-in-36-minute intensity. dimension
Save for some oozy ambient, spoken-word blips, “Every Loser” remains a metal sound like “Frenzy” — Iggy singing his teenage-delinquent best, backed by a bevy of boyish harmony vocalists — riff-heavy, mid-tempo. Rockers like “Strong Out Johnny,” where Pop’s ground-swelling baritone warble makes his gravitas known.
Co-writing with Watt brought out Kurt’s melodicist in pop while letting his usual role of playwright shine as a nuanced critique of media culture. The slowly unsettling “Morning Show” is carefully applying a public face to a private Iggy Garbo-meets-Gaga fashion. “Commentary” features pop jokes about selling to Hollywood, and how going to outer space is no better than being on dirty Earth, before finding a soulmate in the comments section. During the raging rumble of “Neo Punk,” he talks about the younger generation of musicians who’ve thwarted his every move, baiting them with lines like “Emotionally I’m a celebrity/ I don’t have to sing, I’ve got publishing.”
He may tease the youngsters, but Iggy Pop loves his associates. The vocalist leans into co-writer Watt’s grinding guitar and chunky bass line to deliver each of his arch, icy and defiant lyrics. A revived-up rhythm core of McKagan and guest drummers like Smith and Travis Barker — along with featured friends like Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro and Eric Avery — make Iggy a fast-flying hurricane. But leave it to the late Taylor Hawkins to give the greatest climax to pop’s anti-establishment screed, “The Regency.”
Moving from breezy, pensive ballad to manic, from sand-blasting morass to something loping and soulful, “The Regency” has the Stooges’ winding, avant-jazzy “Funhouse” from the 1970s, but with Hawkins driving the Stooges-like car. Don’t confuse Iggy’s rant or its wild music as a return to institutional proclamations for sarcasm and nostalgia.
Here, a primal-screaming Iggy watches the nose job, the con job, and feels her throat tighten before her “Regency” regal chorus cuts to the bone with self-deprecating cheers and a take-down or two:
“Once I was nobody / I didn’t last long / Like a dog or cattle, I sang a sensual song / Fuck the Regency, fuck the Regency, fuck the Regency up.”
With all that, you still can’t say “every loser” in a comeback. Iggy Pop never went away, even when he sang Francophile jazz licks on “Apres,” electronic dubs with the Underground, Hammond B3-based blues with Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker” on the Blue Note label. Tribute – all from the last 10 years. “Every Loser” is the most Iggy Pop – dirtier, cruder and louder than Love, but filled with his natural lust for life.