Preliminaires By Iggy Pop
It’s hard to think of a way Iggy Pop could have musically drifted further away from The Stooges last clunking album than he does with “Preliminaires,” his new French-tinged jazz album. Iggy says that a novel from French author, Michel Houellebecq inspired the record. While the words “French,” “jazz” and “Iggy” in the same sentence might make you instantly dubious; “Preliminaires” is surprisingly enjoyable.
The first song, a cover of "Les Feuilles Mortes" (Autumn Leaves), sets a dramtic tone for the rest of the CD, as Iggy’s dulcet voice breaks forth in spoken French while he channels a very Serge Gainsbourg-like vibe. It’s an evocative tune that makes you think of floating down a French canal as autumnal leaves fall all around you.
“King Of The Dogs” is sultry, old school jazz that wouldn’t be out of place in a stage show or a New Orleans carnival. Its music has such pomp and attitude as Iggy proclaims to be king of the dogs, himself. “He’s Dead/She’s Alive” is a similar sort of track. Admittedly, there are moments on the album where Iggy’s music is neither carnivale-esque, nor entertaining. The robotic “Je Sais Que Tu Sais” is one of those, as are the lugubrious, dragging beats of “Spanish Coast.”
“Nice To Be Dead” is perhaps the most rock-and-roll song in a record dominated by jazz overtones. It’s filled with plangent guitar sounds and has a driving chorus that mixes well with Iggy’s baritone voice. Through the jaded smokiness of the song, a glimmer of the Iggy we all know can still be heard.
It’s an impressive feat that on his 15th studio album, Iggy would choose to go in such a bold direction as this. But he throws all his musical talents into it and, while it does have some skippable moments, it is definitely a compelling record in the end.
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