The 13th album with 13 songs – the lords of the lugubrious are back with synth-rock that Lord Byron and the Brontë sisters would crave.
Too bad there were no megawatt sound systems pumping the decibels across the moors in 1820…
Depeche Mode doesn’t break any new ground on Delta Machine: electronic splats and digital explosions and the usual dark undertow dominate.
Dave Gahan’s voice holds it all together throughout the thrumming electronics, and his been-there-and-back vocal is one of the most recognizable from the post-1980 school of British synth-pop. But bleak lamenting in full frontal view can be hypnotic and appealing.
The Depeche are broodingly creative as they temper their serious songs with jaunty ideas and the warm vocals of Gahan and guitarist/keyboardist Martin Gore.
Gore’s background vocals bring a clean texture to the band’s wall of electro-sound (Alone, Soothe My Soul).
Depeche Mode knows how to jar and opiate the senses. The robotic riffs of My Little Universe are an exercise in detachment and the song makes no sense until it’s finished.
Angst is milked for all its worth. Heaven is an attractive enticement to the band’s electronic maelstrom. Gahan’s voice holds a beckoning proclamation: “I will scream the word/Jump into the void/I will guide the herd /Up to Heaven.” Ah well, just another walk along the edge.
Soft Touch is a revisit to a classic edgy sound. The track’s pounding post-punk electro beat boosts a ringing Merseybeat hook and endearingly desperate vocals from Gahan and Gore.
Depeche Mode demonstrates their uncanny will over the machines and push hard-driving ideas and dark lyrics over a moody album that swaggers through the high decibel noise generators.
— Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician and freelance writer who reviews new releases for The Mornring Star.