On Préliminaires, Iggy Pop sounds all of his sixtysome years, and it's about damn time. Once a shoo-in for the burn-out side of the standard rock equation, Pop changed course throughout most of the past decade, choosing the reissue-and-rehash fade that makes the cliché seem accurate. With Préliminaires, Pop manages to sidestep the issue altogether. This is no fade, but it isn't incendiary either — "smolder" would be a good term. Jazzy and mature, the record sounds like nothing Pop has ever done. There are shades of mid-'90s French electro-pop (think Air's The Virgin Suicides) and a hell of a debt to Serge Gainsbourg. "King of the Dogs" even swings with a steamy dose of Dixieland shuffle. Somehow, Pop manages to make these his own, injecting the album with the weight of his experience. As intelligent as the music is, there's still an element of the old Iggy to be found, particularly in the sometimes childish lyrics — plenty of easy end rhymes and obvious conclusions, with some of the offhand immediacy of Pop's punk heyday. What might seem silly and trite sung by a tenor is made profound by Pop's gravelly baritone. In casting off some of the trappings of Iggy, Pop may just have found the same truth all over again. — Nicholas Hall
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