The Godfather of Punk explores his intellectual side, reaching to literary influences and flirting with jazz in Preliminaires.

Upon reading the press release that stated the Godfather of Punk’s new album, Préliminaires, is a collection inspired by a Michel Houellebecq novel that “gets dangerously near jazz,” I almost wept. Seriously, Iggy? A French, literary, jazz experiment? WTF? However, when I gave the disc a spin, I found that it’s actually pretty cool. Préliminaires—which includes three French selections—is bookended by two versions of “Les Feuilles Mortes,” a track that showcases Pop reading seductively in French before breaking into a smooth croon. “I Want to Go to the Beach” is another quiet-yet-potent standout. Featuring a hypnotic piano accompaniment to the lyrical lament “I want to go to the beach/I don’t care if it’s decadent/I don’t know where my spirit went/but that’s all right,” the song will make you want to cry or fuck or possibly both. But the set list isn’t all slow jams. The mid-album rocker “Nice to Be Dead,” with its thudding drums and growling vocals, would be welcome in any underground club the world over. Even when getting wildly experimental, Iggy Pop can’t help but embody the soul of punk.

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