"Cold Metal," the first song on Instinct, opens with a solid blast of hard rock guitar, and after the overly slick pop of Blah Blah Blah and the arty miscalculations of Zombie Birdhouse, many Iggy Pop fans breathed a sigh of relief at the thought that Iggy was ready to sing some hard and fast rock & roll again. But as Steve Jones' turgid neo-metal guitar riffs begin to sink in (it's hard to believe these leads are being played by the guy who founded the Sex Pistols), it soon becomes obvious that while Iggy is trying to rock out on Instinct, his band is not doing an especially good job of it, sounding only marginally more enthusiastic than a typical second-tier arena rock outfit. And while Bill Laswell might have seemed like an inspired choice as producer after helming solid and idiosyncratic rock albums for Motörhead and Public Image Ltd., he doesn't draw much of interest from the musicians, and his sound has the dull, pre-fab sheen of any number of standard-issue hard rock albums. And though Iggy's in strong voice here, he appears to still be working his way through the formulaic lyrical mind set of Blah Blah Blah -- Iggy doesn't seem to have much to say, and few interesting ways of saying it. While the first and last cuts on Instinct are enjoyable, most of what's in between is surprisingly faceless hard rock; it's a competent, well-crafted album, but the most dangerous man in rock & roll ought to be able to come up with a bit more than that.
by Mark Deming