Never needed a membership card

Iggy shares yoga tips in his garden.

I wonder what the protocol is for asking Iggy Pop to do vocals for your group. If it actually happens, it’s likely Pop’s already had an interest in your band for whatever reason (to which most of Skull Ring can be contentiously chalked up) and the actual moment isn’t as intense. For a tune like this — more accurately a role like this — I’d imagine Pop might have been stoked. During “Punk Rocker,” a tune by Sweden’s Teddybears with Iggy sitting in on the mic, the former Stooge practically pays tribute to himself by adopting a self-immortalizing character whose aloof proclamations are as amusing as they are fitting.

Like an old Cars single, “Punk Rocker” rattles to life with a hypnotic synth rhythm enforced with tambourine and a heady synth solo lead. When Pop shows up it’s just him and the bassist, whose sound and nonchalant performance make me think he owns a holster. Iggy’s voice trembles through the low, dramatic octaves like Ian Curtis, maybe even Interpol’s Paul Banks, and it’s difficult to identify him without specifically knowing he’s there. He’s driving in his car, being chased by the cops and not giving a shit. While he crows on about being fearless, a nasty, frantically wah’ed guitar riffs along — an unexpected attempt at something funky or dangerous sounding that’s entirely out of place in the tune. The chorus kicks up dirt, with bullheaded guitar lines crashing through the simple melody, Pop declares “I’m a punk rocker, yes I am.” Sounding as crisp, studio-shaped and poppy as it does, it’s difficult to agree with him sonically, but he sells it. This sentiment locks in after the tense bridge. Immersed in harnessed feedback, Iggy laments being “bored with being god,” and repeats an earlier line: “I’m listening to the music with no fear / You can hear it too if you’re sincere.” His ethic and his outlook bring a brash confidence that calls you out for questioning his choice of band or what-have-you. His sensational persona only furthers that he can and will do whatever the fuck he wants, and you can ride the wave or jump off, buster.

As a tune, it’s goths riding in cars with Iggy sound is infectious, if perhaps a bit cloying. Though Teddybears don’t usually sound like this (they have no singular sound; guest vocalists as disparate as Annie and Elephant Man also lend their talents to the album, which makes me again question how Pop got involved), this freeing combination allows one of rock’s favorite sons to ham it up, warm his space in history and move on. And hell, they get to say they worked with Iggy Pop, if that kind of thing matters to them. I’m guessing it does.

Audio: Teddybears, “Punk Rocker” (ft. Iggy Pop)

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