Iggy Pop grew so tired of rock ’n’ roll and “idiot thugs with guitars, banging out crappy music” that he felt he needed to post his disgust on his website. That shouldn’t be taken as a retirement announcement, however. The product of immersing himself in jazz and the science-fiction novel The Possibility Of An Island, by controversial French author Michel Houellebecq, Preliminaires doesn’t make a complete break from the rock world or Pop’s past. Instead, Pop brings his Idiot-era croon to a low-key album with some notions borrowed from old New Orleans and Paris cafés.
It’s a weird, frequently winning combination of elements. Pop singing Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive” to a low-key synth-and-accordion accompaniment may not be on anyone’s wish list, but he makes it work. That song comes on the heels of “Nice To Be Dead,” the album’s most traditional-Pop track, and both play nicely into Preliminaires’ doomy, romantic atmosphere. (So does the cover art by Marjane Satrapi.) Elsewhere, Pop offers the new-wave Stooges (“Party Time”), acoustic blues (“He’s Dead/She’s Alive”), and a moving spoken-word piece on dog ownership (“A Machine For Loving”). It’s an album of curveballs, and while not every track finds its zone, it’s still a pleasure to hear Pop turn disgust into inspiration. Restlessness suits him.