The aptly titled ‘Every Loser’

The latest Iggy Pop album features a slew of guests, but they fail to save the monstrosity Pop creates.

Fame changes people. Too many artists find themselves unable to replicate the work that made them famous in the first place, and this holds true especially in music. Boston never came close to recovering the magic of their self-titled debut album, Pearl Jam — though they had good music after it — never replicated “Ten,” and Black Sabbath to this day gets little radio play from albums other than “Paranoid.” The struggle for recognition drives artists to create to the very best of their ability, but once that recognition is found, the sad truth is that the output thereafter tends to wane in quality with each successive release. “Every Loser” is Iggy Pop’s nineteenth solo album.

If one were to try to describe the album in one word, the term “lazy” might come to mind. The album begins with the track “Frenzy,” an ode to a directionless angst familiar to the punk scene, which begins with the unforgettable first words of the release, “Got a dick and two balls, that’s more than you all.” He follows this wordsmanship with a slew of profanities that he pronounces as though he had to ask permission. But the music itself comes off as surprisingly enjoyable, and this seems to occur because more capable individuals than Mr. Pop put in overtime. Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame and Duff McKagan of Guns ‘n Roses, guests on most tracks, do their best to open the album well; unfortunately, the artist on the sleeve seems to have had the lyrical portion of the writing left to him. The first song ends in poetic refrain, “I got a dick and two balls.”

The next track, “Strung Out Johnny,” reads like middle school poetry. Pop takes a serious topic, addiction in this instance, and presents it to his audience in the plainest and least poetic language imaginable in the hopes that any critique levied against him will be rebuffed by the gravity of the subject matter. He does, however, help to introduce the audience to the potentially Freudian interpretations of his release, as the refrain “You’re strung out, Johnny” switches at times to become “I’m strung out, mommy.”

Unfortunately for anyone who finds themself listening to the album, the failure of the first two tracks does not consist merely of an organizational error. The first two tracks he offers to grab his audience’s attention are probably the best two songs on the album. The third track, “New Atlantis,” begins with Pop characterizing his conceptualized city in his best impression of the voice from the Dodge truck commercials. Outside of that portion, the most memorable part of the song occurs at the end, when he makes explicit that the “beautiful whore of a city” he describes is Miami. Following this is “Modern Day Ripoff,” in which Pop showcases his lyrical ability in saying almost nothing but “ripoff” for the second half of the song. In an effort to save himself though, he uses the ensuing “Morning Show” to describe himself in metaphor, making allusions to delicious Raisin’ Cane’s chicken when he describes how he’s “crispy on the outside / And juicy where [he cries].”

This brings listeners to the first of two interludes. In “The News for Andy,” he revives the Dodge truck voice to lampoon electric media commercials at-large before inviting listeners to revel in his punk revival “Neo Punk,” that exists despite the fact that punk didn’t really die nor ask him to save it. In case his feelings about punk were unclear though, he leaves no room for misinterpretation in beginning the track by shouting “Punk!” three times. But the god complex continues throughout the song as the “hunky, Libertarian Neo Punk” brags about how “Old ladies cum when [he flashes his] junk,” and he even keeps the egotism alive into “All the Way Down” where the star, worth an estimated $20 million, derides “Camels coming through the needles” and “Foam, rubber, [and] Hollywood breasts.” But his reflection and self-awareness do eventually shine through with “Comments,” the last track before the second interlude. He continues to discuss his themes with the greatest touch of subtlety in commanding his imagined partner in the song, “Sell your stock in Zuckerberg and run” just before further ordering them, “Sell your face to Hollywood.” The self-awareness is what saves the track though, as he reminds listeners how he “Sold [his] face to Hollywood” and that he now is “feelin’ good, lookin’ good.”

The confidence reaches a head in the second interlude, “My Animus.” Here, Pop shares his wish “To smell out and find the saucer of milk and drink it all,” his own feline twist on having his cake and eating it too. If not for his expert ability to string together words in such a moving fashion, one might almost wish that the interludes provided more of a respite from his witticisms. The album finally comes to a close with “The Regency,” which doubles down on the binding moral of the release, which is that he says bad words (and you should too!). In an age where much music released comes out laced with profanity and most people are okay with that (including, in no small part, this author), Pop relies heavily on the notion that “Fuck the Regency” will resonate enough with his audience that it won’t seem like a gag when the album’s longest track has little else on which to rely for lyrics. Pop’s incredible knack for finding an underwhelming line and beating it to death sees its crowning moment on the album’s closing track.

Unfortunately, the album is not even that bad. Everything outside of the lyrics is actually enjoyable, forgettable at its worst moments but attention-grabbing at its best — which are not uncommon. The problem, however, lies in Pop’s insistence on continuing to sing or speak even during what might otherwise have been a fun bridge in almost every song. Smith and McKagan create great music, as do the other guests who appear, including the late Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, but all these superstars find themselves fighting a losing battle as Pop does his best to ruin everything they give him.

Post Author: Zach Short