Depeche Mode /dᵻˌpɛʃˈmoʊd/ are an English electronic band that formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group consists of founders Dave Gahan (lead vocals, occasional songwriter since 2005), Martin Gore (guitar, keyboards, vocals, main songwriter since 1982), and Andy Fletcher (keyboards, bass guitar). Depeche Mode released their debut album Speak & Spell in 1981, bringing the band onto the British new wave scene. Original band member Vince Clarke (keyboards, guitar, main songwriter from 1980 to 1981), left the band after the release of the album, leaving the band as a trio to record A Broken Frame, released the following year. Gore took over the lead songwriting duties and, later in 1982, Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, bass guitar, occasional songwriter) officially joined the band to fill Clarke’s spot, establishing a line up that would continue for the next 13 years. Depeche Mode have been a trio again since 1995, when Wilder left.
The band’s last albums of the 1980s, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, established them as a dominant force on the mainstream electronic music scene. A highlight of this era was the band’s concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, where they drew a crowd in excess of 70,000 people. In the new decade, Depeche Mode released Violator, a mainstream success. The subsequent album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and the supporting Devotional Tour exacerbated tensions within the band to the point where Alan Wilder quit in 1995, leading to intense media and fan speculation that the band would split. Now a trio once again, the band released Ultra in 1997, recorded at the height of Gahan’s near-fatal drug abuse, Gore’s alcoholism and seizures, and Fletcher’s depression. The release of Exciter confirmed Depeche Mode’s willingness to remain together, the subsequent, and very successful, Exciter Tour being their first tour in support of an original album in eight years since the Devotional Tour, although the band had toured in 1998 to support The Singles 86–98 compilation album.
Depeche Mode have had 50 songs in the UK Singles Chart and thirteen top 10 albums in the UK chart; they have sold over 100 million records worldwide.
Spirit is the fourteenth studio album by the English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released on 17 March 2017 through Columbia Records. It was preceded by the single “Where’s the Revolution“. Spirit is the band’s second album released under Columbia. Depeche Mode recorded it with new producer James Ford.
Going Backwards—-With trepidation and excitement, I hit the play button on a long awaited release. The opening strains are very guitar based….little in the way of swirls and synths until the song progresses. Dave Gahan enters with his trademark baritone and gives the song a very bleak feel….aided by the darker than dark lyrics and general lack of optimism. The song speaks vividly to the current times wonderfully well….a nice beginning.
Where’s The Revolution?—-The first proper release from the album, this lead off single is not much brighter in terms of musical landscape or lyrical content. The familiar Depeche Mode synth sounds are here…the gentle ‘creaking’ found in many of their songs. Gahan spreads his words out in long wails……then the song opens up with a huge anthemic chorus that inspires and begs people to pay attention to the things going on around them. This is fantastic…..the train is coming…..get on board!!!
The Worst Crime—-Keyboard based with a gentle and sad vocal at the onset, the musical landscape sounds bleak and naked. The feeling of the song is so stark and lacking any defining synth line…instead the music produces a thick, dark and lonely fog for you to dig your way out of…..not a favorite track…the plodding goes on a bit to long.
Scum—-With a bit of a livelier synth line, Dave enters with a distorted almost Industrial style vocal that is run through a processor. the lyrical content on this entire release is very dark and intense. I wonder who this song could be directed to….this entire album has huge political overtones.
You Move—-Continuing in the same vein as the rest of this release, the strains of this song lack any real musical bright spots…the sound is very layered and dark. The chorus enters and the strains of the synth are a bit livelier…and Gahan has moved into the upper register of his voice….as the track continues it does have bright poppy moments….much needed at this point.
Cover Me—-Filled with a bleak edge to it at the onset, this is airy despite the dark feeling of the lyrics. The synth effects give off a gentle puff of fog as it enters the landscape of the song…Gahan sounds sad and tortured here. The song left me feeling sad and lonely…but somehow hopeful. Really nice.
Eternal—-This comes from the fog with an almost Church like synth line…Gahan sings almost in acapella fashion as the music is so stark and naked. The sadness and intensity of the lyrics and vocals leave me in a less than bright place in my own psyche…Not a favorite track…..a bit too intense.
Poison Heart—-I like this right from the onset…..although the music is full of plodding beats and mundane synth lines, the vocal…delivered at that higher tone gives the song a brighter feel. at some points in the song, the synth lines threaten to become a bit noisy…..how magical. A really great effort from the Kings Of Gloom!
So Much Love—-Jaunty and noisy, this is a nice surprise right out of the gate, Gahan almost struts with his vocal…I can see him now! This is a fantastic track…I predict this could be the second single. The synth lines are excellent…little blips and beeps appear from nowhere and what sounds like a female vocal on the chorus gives the song a nice body. This is a favorite…really great effort.
Poorman—-This has a nice intro sound that hearkens back to the earlier days of the band. Gahan enters again with a vocal that seem a bit manipulated as do the guitars that are heard. This speaks to poverty…the daily grind of street people and the battles they face on a regular basis. This is social awareness put to music. Brilliant.
No More [This Is The Last Time]—-Although this has a dark tone to it, the airy synth line and the big chorus line gives a remarkable life to the song…this is in contention as another single I think. Gahan sounds rested and in the best voice I have heard him in a very long time. This is a truly brilliant, classic Depeche Mode track,
Fail—-Rounding out the proper release with another stark and almost naked rack, Gahan sings in a pleasant croon that tries to belie the meaning and feel of the song. This is dark and leaves you a bit hopeless….question as you do everyday the meaning of our lives…where we have been and where we might end up, Sometimes the ‘croon’ on the vocal makes me think of classic Bowie.
Cover Me [Alt Out]—-A bit more jaunty and synth laden, this is nice. The blips and the beeps that ride over the top of the foggy synth line are really nice…gives the song a much fuller body than the original. with just wisps of the vocal on the song….this is a phenomenal instrumental journey….EXCELLENT!!!
Scum [Frenetic Mix]—-again, this track becomes much livelier in a remixed form. The synth lines like quick, sharp snaps of a whip at your backside. There are times where everything falls away and the song sounds completely naked…but over-all…I love the sound of this…stark yet powerful.
Poison Heart [Tripped Mix]—-Ominous and dense with toy piano sounds introduce the song….Gahan is back with a vocal on this remix,,,sounding even more manipulated and dense then ever. This is layered with coat after coat of the blackest paint you can find. Not a favorite track…but it is pretty true to form.
Fail [Cinematic Mix]—-Full of static and magnificent darkness, the song has these little slivers of light that magically shine through the trees in the deep woods…giving direction and hope. This is wonderfully thick with sound and reverb. A masterful remix.
So Much Love [Machine Mix]—-Again, a bit of a livelier introduction than the original…the song seems stuck on a never ending loop that takes forever to begin. slowly new sounds and wisps of vocal are introduced…but overall…the song is dense in effects and lacks a true brightness. I don’t hate this…but I would pass over it during a casual listen.
**** out of 5