Welcome to another entry in the IOU Series! This one’s for J. at the amazing Resurrection Songs blog. J. has mentioned this album to me several times, and it’s about damn time I heard it, eh?
I like Iggy. This singularly fascinating character hasn’t always hit the nail on the head, and when he misses he owns that too, but when he does nail it, holy hell it’s amazing.
And check out the band for this one: John Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures, etc), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, Dead Weather, Eagles Of Death Metal), and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys).
Produced by John Homme, this is not your typical Iggy record. I love it for this reason, and I will explain. But first, the tracks:
There’s something theatrical, even vaudevillian about Break Into Your Heart. It’s a grand gesture, on a dark stage with that edge to it that promises menace even though it simply sounds like slightly trippy rock. Gardenia could be from an 80s Bowie record, slightly wonky crooning and synths wobbling behind a simple beat and a rumbling bass line.
American Valhalla is a wee bit lethargic, somehow, even though the music is definitely busy enough. It plods a bit, but back comes that theatrical element… I can hear it coming from a stage while interprative dancers writhe about. Further listens will likely make this one grow on me like a fungus. In The Lobby would be perfect on a Tarantino soundtrack, or maybe a Doors record… it has that atmospheric echoey sound to it and, again, that hint of menace to it (“somebody is losing their life tonight”).
Sunday’s pounding drums and relentlessly riffing guitars turn this track into a rocking 80s swirl of Iggy. It remains a fascinating groove for its duration (that is, until the string section comes in at the end, of course), another grower track that stands tall. Vulture begins with Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar strumming, a western feel to its howled chorus bit. The electric guitar is wonky, and bells ring… by the time it crashes to a huge conclusion, with Iggy’s vocals mimicking a native American call, you’re firmly in its grip… damn.
German Days throbs, and lurks towards you like an old horror film monster. It receives lift from the electric guitar line in the verses. This is a weird track that does wander a bit, but it’s also fascinating. Chocolate Drops staggers up the street, emphasized by the slide guitar bits and, once again, ringing bells. “When you get to the bottom you’re near the top, the shit turns into chocolate drops…” Haha OK, Iggy!
Paraguay starts out a capella, and then, for no real discernible reason except that Iggy is going to “going where sore losers go, he starts singing about Paraguay. I’m sure the people of that fine country are thrilled. It’s a happy enough song musically, though, with backing music accents suggestive of music likely heard there. When it starts slamming hard, near the end, and Iggy starts talking and then ranting… THEN the track really gets interesting…
I said at the start that I’d explain why I love this record. It’s not just because it’s unlike a lot of what Iggy usually does. It’s that, of course, but it’s also because there’s a fearlessness in the whole thing. This just feels like pure artistic expression. And more, it feels like it unfolded as they went. Of course, I know there was a plan, but that feel of spontaneity is there. I like its darkness, and I like how it sort of feels like a Bowie tribute record… no, wait, not a tribute. It sounds like the album they could’ve made together if they’d made one last year. With those players along for the show. Damn.
I know that repeat listens will reveal more and more about this effort, too.
Two thumbs way up.