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Depeche Mode – Spirit

A revolutionary album, chased by the spirits of the past

We’re always looking forward to new material of ‘Depeche Mode’. The fourteenth studio album ‘Spirit’ was unfortunately torn to pieces in advance of so-called ‘Devotees’. Especially after the release of the first single ‘Where’s The Revolution‘.

We think it’s a real pity and it makes us sad when we read opinions like these: “Hopefully the song Where’s The Revolution is the weakest song of the new album“, “Since Alan Wilder is gone, the albums are just getting worse“, “The best times of the band are finally over.” or “There is no hit like Enjoy The Silence or Personal Jesus on this record“.

Stop living in the past, because it’s over for more than 25 years now! These people are just fans of their own youth and radio friendly 80s Pop music and not of the band ‘Depeche Mode’. It’s ridiculous to yell those paroles for more than 2 decades now. But haters gonna hate, you can do nothing against it.

Pioneers of electronic music

‘Depeche Mode’ has always been known for making contemporary music with a twist of their very own style. The album ‘Spirit’ is very close to current musical developments and just as close to recent political world affairs or to personal events.

Their music was always gloomy and serious. Only the big music industry tries to push them into the corner of a usual ‘pop band’. ‘Depeche Mode’ is certainly no slight fare for radio broadcasting. It’s music for profound people, music with strong expressiveness and music that is timeless. Just stay open-minded to the new album ‘Spirit’. Once again, ‘Depeche Mode’ have proven to be pioneers of electronic music.

Darker than ‘Ultra’

After the recent world political events, there is a dark shadow over us and this is clearly reflected in the current ‘Depeche Mode’ album. The listener awaits a challenge: This album is a much darker opus than ‘Ultra’ ever was and the exact opposite of the ‘Exciter’ album. But let’s start track by track.

Going Backwards: We start off on our way on the dark ‘Spirit’ path with ‘Going Backwards’. This piece is dominated by the piano and electric guitars. Especially the piano reminds me strongly of the basic melancholic mood of ‘Walking In My Shoes’. The text line ‘We feel nothing inside’ makes me feel the Weltschmerz almost physically.

Where’s the revolution?

Where’s The Revolution: The first single breaks it exactly down to the point: Where is the fantastic future we all dreamt of when we were children? In a world in which people are blinded by fear and hate, dystopia is only an armlength away. This is probably the core of the song ‘Where’s The Revolution’. The decision to publish this song as the first single is pretty obvious, because this is surely the most pleasing song on the album.

The Worst Crime: “I heard a rumor, they travel far …”: came into my mind during the first seconds of this track. But time travel to the ‘Exciter’ era was kept up for only 10 seconds. Then Dave Gahan starts to sing instead of Martin Gore. ‘The Worst Crime’ is the first ballad on Depeche Mode’s latest production. It’s a minimalist soundscape that is accompanied by guitar.

Depeche Mode (Promo Photo 2016) by Anton Corbijn

Depeche Mode (Promo Photo 2016) by Anton Corbijn

Scum: An unusual beat, almost offbeat, white noise sounds and voice distortion effects all play into the mid-tempo that is ‘Scum’. Definitely a very unusual ‘Depeche Mode’ track but this is what makes the album colourful. Especially the shouts ‘Pull the trigger’ remain in your memory. We guess, the white noise sounds in ‘Scum’ are the basis for the grey cover background that visualizes white noise.

Sounds like an ‘Ultra’ track

You Move: The fifth song is entitled ‘You Move’ and it’s the only one on ‘Spirit’ that is written by Martin Gore and Dave Gahan together. It’s not comparable to any other song we’ve ever heard before, but still it’s a typical ‘Depeche Mode’ track. The basic, sonical mood of ‘You Move’ fits best to the ‘Ultra’ era.

Cover Me: These sounds come along very light-footed. Lyrically, however, the song moves on a very melancholic level. It’s a great low-tempo piece that builds up an almost epic end and finds its crowning completion in heavenly and almost angelic sounds.

An endless story …

Eternal: If you like Martin Gore’s slow ballads like ‘Comatose’, ‘Macrovision’ or ‘Jezebel’, then you will surely like the song ‘Eternal’. This is our only 3-star rating on the album.

Poison Heart: Great melancholy overwhelms the listener here. However, the chorus is very dynamic thanks to the really bright chorus. Furthermore, we recognize a strong Blues influence. This is comparable to the track ‘Freestate’ from ‘Ultra’. Nevertheless, you are offered something quite different here for it has more the vibes of a lament song.

Powerful and brilliant

So Much Love: The most powerful song on the album is undoubtedly ‘So Much Love’. A driving beat whips the track almost into an uptempo and therefore ‘Depeche Mode’ atypical area. We can well imagine this song filling the dance floors, so we hope for a single release with great club versions and energetic remixes!

Poorman: Although the song tends more towards minimal electro, it starts with Space-Age-esque sound samples’. This aesthetic is only broken by an occasional guitar riff. Again, the album ‘Spirit’ surprises once more with a completely different emotional approach.

Easy access

No More (This Is The Last Time): The penultimate song on the album ‘No More (This Is The Last Time)’, has – regardless of the modern sound – a spiritual bond to the 80s. This almost radio-friendly number is less experimental and extremely catchy. Definitely a song to which you can easily find access.

Fail: First thing’s first: the last song ‘Fail’ isn’t a fail at all. Martin Gore presents a ballad as the final track on ‘Spirit’. But it’s not the usual, monotonous ballad that you know from almost every album. Because this track has a lot more to offer. It’s extremely varied in instrumentation and the composition is of a very dynamic design. It sounds exactly the way we like a Martin Gore ballad. Maybe Martin Gore reads this review and takes this as a positive criticism.

Remix sound experiences

The deluxe version of the album ‘Spirit’ contains 5 further remix versions. If you like experimental soundscapes up to the most extreme song deconstructions, then surely this little bonus will appeal to you. We would have preferred to find some b-sides or even a cover version for a change. The remix versions of the ‘Spirit (Deluxe Version)’ are not included in the evaluation.

Conclusion: A new favourite album

We admire and appreciate that ‘Depeche Mode’ create their own kind of music and do not try to produce radio hits or No.1 tracks. And quite honestly, with such a strong fanbase, the band isn’t forced to produce hits at the hit of a button. We can absolutely understand why many older ‘Depeche Mode’ fans, especially those who love radio pop anthems, don’t like this album. For those who love deep-minded lyrics and serious, dark Synth Pop, the album ‘Spirit’ is the Holy Grail.

My personal favourite ‘Depeche Mode’ album is ‘Ultra’, but ‘Spirit’ catches up on this one. For us this album is a very clear purchase recommendation. And it will definitely be among the top of the best albums in 2017.

Track By Track Rating

Depeche Mode - Spirit
Going Backwards
Where’s The Revolution
The Worst Crime
Scum
You Move
Cover Me
Eternal
Poison Heart
So Much Love
Poorman
No More (This Is The Last Time)
Fail
Recommend
Where’s The Revolution
So Much Love
Going Backwards
Scum
Negatives
(Nothing to report here)
4.33
A superior opus

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