The old adage Word to the Wise couldnt be used better than in a sentiment to Michigan native Iggy Pop. His latest release, Préliminaires, offers up a schizophrenic agglomeration of new songs that are both cryptically honest, and staggeringly defiant as anything hes ever done before. The trouble is, his album-long lament on the loneliness of growing old sounds as tired as he must have been after scribing a malevolent, indecipherable mess of lyrics that confuse rather than inspire, and hardly ever enlighten those who attempt to find a relative amount of meaning behind them.
If Tom Waits penned a collection of songs specifically for Leonard Cohen (or even um William Shatner?) to recite a passionate lot of musings over, youd have the background noise found on Préliminaires. Its a likeable arrangement of b-side-sounding tracks that wouldnt have been out of place sound tracking the hypnotic movements of Uma Thurman as she strove defiantly in Kill Bill.
Theres no better way to reference this albums shortcoming than to quote the sinewy 61-year-old front man himself. Through these dogs, we pay homage to love/and to its possibility, he utters during “A Machine for Loving”, and you cant help but cringe as you wistfully recall the punky efficiency with which the very same man howled, Now I wanna be your dog! The former lyrical excerpt is much better in representing a man who got famous stabbing himself with errant shards of glass, and who eased that pain with copious amounts of peanut butter, all to wow ’70s audiences into a rouge-laden frenzy.
This does not sound like the Iggy who provided the fuel to the fire of Raw Power, or Fun House. Rather, this aged veteran of glam/punk has oozed into an elderly faux-poet whose most prominent lyrical offerings include, Die like a clown/with no friend around” — An uttering derivative allusion to the inevitability of aging, and the sorrowful nostalgia that accompanies one’s ascent into retirement.
Préliminaires isnt a complete wash. He does gather himself for a particularly sweet lot of introspection on “I Want To Go To The Beach”, in which he philosophizes with relative paunch: You can convince the word youre some kind of superstar/When an asshole is what you are. He laments with no shred of irony of pretension. Hes a midwestern man at heart, and his honesty offers up enough genuine promise to keep this diminutive old man around.
Though he does breach the failure standard in moment, they are so brief and so intermittently outlying its very difficult to recommend this album to anyone who isnt a die hard Iggy fan. Even those amongst that faithful legion will shudder more than they gleefully sigh throughout the smorgasbord of filler that can be found on Préliminaires. He even tries to use the French language to make himself sound, I dunno, more seasoned? The question is, does speaking French make even rock n’ rolls most neanderthal front man sound sophisticated in his vein-y old age?
The answer takes a nanosecond to deliver: Nope.
“A Machine for Loving”