Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., June 19, 2009
Iggy PopPréliminaires (Astralwerks)
With every passing year, Iggy Pop, 62, looks increasingly like one of those "visible man" model kits, the ones that expose the knotty, crimson musculature and miles of circulatory threading. Préliminaires is the aural equivalent of just that inner Pop, a 12-tracker that could almost be filed under "jazz," which finds the former James Osterberg reinventing himself from the inside out, crooning a graveload of chansons du mort inspired by the works of French novelist and provocateur Michel Houellebecq. Pop no longer wants to be your dog so much as he wants to be "King of the Dogs." Opener "Les Feuilles Mortes" sets an intimate, melancholic tone that Préliminaires never exits; the Jacques Prévert-penned standard gets flayed to its resignedly regretful essence, with Pop's leathery boneyard vocals achey and spare. "A Machine for Loving" runs a plaintive, spoken-word ode to canine companionship, with lyrics excerpted straight from Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island, as does swaggering duet with Lucie Aimé, "Je Sais Que Tu Sais." It's not all beautiful doom: The guitar-driven crunch of "Nice to Be Dead" briefly reanimates Blah Blah Blah-era Pop, while "Party Time" reinvents Kraftwerk. Only the four-tracked "He's Dead/She's Alive" dies alone, all raw, no power. Pop has crafted a stylistically variegated and broody meditation on mortality, a soundtrack for the ossuary, a lovely lust for death.