no-cover

Depeche Mode – [Album]

Like
595
0
Tuesday, 02 April 2013

How long has it been since Depeche Mode released an album that you happily told people was essential listening, dear reader? For me, it has been fifteen years; for me, the last truly inspired moment that Depeche Mode enjoyed was the moody, gothic assault of Ultra. On that album, Depeche Mode hadn't broken down quite yet; Dave Gahan's drug problems hadn't become creatively problematic yet, and Martin Gore hadn't succumbed to his penchant for letting his navel-gazing nature dictate his band's artistic development and output. Rather, Depeche Mode stared down the barrel of a gun and begged listeners to follow through; the band dared fans to blow them away, but do it before they obliterated listeners instead. It was a fantastic standoff to hear, but then but then everything fell apart for the band after than. Consumed by turmoil of both internal and external varieties, Depeche Mode was placed in a holding pattern for the better part of a decade, and the music they made during that period (see  Exciter, Playing The Angel and Sounds Of The Universe) sounded like little more than the hold music you'd expect to hear on the phone waiting to make a dental appointment; it was static and boring. After almost ten years of such nonsense, fans were understandably beginning to woefully believe that the band was spent but, with their backs pressed hard against the wall, Depeche Mode has toughed up (again) and delivered Delta Machine – a genuine return to form that both the band and its fans needed.

As has always been the case with Depeche Mode's best records, Delta Machine opens with some jarring electronic pulses and effects designed to make the hairs on the necks of listeners stand on end. Here, the synthetic forms supplied by Andy Fletcher have the perfect sort of menacing and sardonic air which has fueled some of the best Depeche moments historically, and when Dave Gahan creeps in with a sly and sticky air like a gentleman killer (“Welcome to my world/ Step right through the door/Leave your tranquilizers at home/ You don't need them anymore” indeed) that's when long-time fans will know it's real. They might not know exactly what's coming, but they'll know the band is in the right shape and form of mind to amaze.

They certainly do not disappoint.

After the malignant tone is set for Delta Machine, Depeche Mode doesn't let the mood lapse. Perfectly dense and heavy 8-bit beats power songs like “Angel,” “Secret To The End,” “Slow,” “Soft Touch/Raw Nerve” and “Should Be Higher” and Gahan spits cathartic, dismissive and murderously angry lyrics through all of them (check out lines like “I got a feeling that it's coming soon/ Could this be the end” and the far more direct “The problem should have been you”) while Gore composes fierce but aesthetically reserved to titillate as much as they'll provoke listeners. It's a perfect combination and listeners will happily lap it up like a bottle of their favorite private reserve. Delta Machine is dark but urbane, potent, hypnotic, visceral and addictive perfection.

Artist:

www.depechemode.com/
www.myspace.com/depechemode
www.facebook.com/depechemode
www.twitter.com/depechemode

Album:

Delta Machine
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

no-cover

Depeche Mode – [Album]

Like
0
0
Wednesday, 06 May 2009

Even at their weakest moments, some bands are possessed of a muse that never falters or lets them down. Just look at Depeche Mode as an example – throughout the group's 28-year career, fans have questioned singer Dave Gahan and guitarist Martin Gore's motivations and movements on an album-by-album basis; trying to decode the changes in minutiae that have been made. This practice has proven to have a very divisive effect on that fan base too – the proof of that lies in the fact that Playing The Angel basically breezed through the pop landscape without making so much as a ripple and Gahan's 2007 solo venture only made everyone that heard it cringe. And yet, even those poorer moments have been of value in their own way; new, previously uninitiated fans end up discovering and becoming enamored of them and thus swell still further the ranks of the band's support. Such a history has established Depeche Mode as a unique and enduring entity in the pop pantheon because, while the changes to their sound have been small, they successfully update the band and keep many existing fans coming back as well as attracting new ones. In effect, that audience rotation has kept the band vital and kept demand high; no matter what they do, they'll always have an audience hungry for it.

The difference that Sounds Of The Universe represents – and what makes it so exhilarating – is that it plays to all of those groups of fans by using all of the different sounds Depeche Mode has developed as effects to color sections (verses, choruses, bridges) of them rather than play a single methodology straight through.

By combining the death disco, Violator clunk of the band at the height of their fame with slithering, trance-y electronica à la Ultra and Exciter, Sounds Of The Universe plays like the ultimate Depeche Mode album as far as being instantly gratifying for fans, but has the added benefit of also recalling those strong thematic and atmospheric periods as well. From the opening test feedback washes of “In Chains,” the lights get turned down in the band's favourite lounge and Gahan rattles those trademark psychodramatic and tortured vocals to life while Gore and drummer Andy Fletcher start building anticipation with eerie, wah-guitar-punctuated fervour.

You can almost hear the band collectively smirk and tell listeners to buckle up because this won't be a ride for the meek.

With the stage set, Depeche Mode launches into a tight and insular psychological terror that self-contains the danger but also entices listeners into it. While the riffs or vocals have always taken center stage previously, this time it's the way the songs are constructed that's the fascinating spectacle; in “Hole To Feed,” for example, the band inverts conventional pop song structures by presenting enormous, stomping verses before taking a breath and coasting through choruses. “Wrong” would fall apart were the vocals not there to punctuate and reign in the instruments. Finally, “Little Soul” delivers an updated permutation of the band's Nineties gothic lounge act – with minor key changes and watery, subdued synths – that some fans have been hoping would appear again for the last eighteen years.

By finally connecting all of the different ideas that have dotted their body of work into one succinct and neatly sealed package, Depeche Mode has not only assembled its most gratifying listen in years with Sounds Of The Universe, they've done it in such a way that fans are able to pull together for the first time on a single endeavor. As the title suggests, Sounds Of The Universe feels both definitive and all-encompassing; no fan of any stripe or any period could ask for better.

Artist:

Depeche Mode Online

Depeche Mode myspace

Album:

Sounds Of The Universe
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.