Depeche Mode

Spirit

Columbia

Mar 20, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

It's rare for any musician from the '80s to smoothly transfer its appeal past that era without seeming like they're trying too hard to update themselves. The alternative is embracing their '80s-ness to such a degree it's almost pastiche. Depeche Mode has avoided both these pitfalls with a musical and visual style so individual it transcends trends.

The group's 14th album, Spirit, produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, Foals), sounds fresh and current. What stands out most on Spirit is its overt political theme. Musicians speak out a great deal about their political stances on social media. Depeche Mode has put its beliefs where its music is and created an album full of political statements, observations, and commands. This is not a new area for the group, who from its start has had politically charged lyrics. These have always been cushioned in so much seduction, however, that the direst outlook on the world was made to sound super sexy.

Spirit's timely tirades are no different. The album's dark industrial shudders shade Depeche Mode's patented synth-pop with an ominousness that is equal parts chilling and tantalizing. This is apparent in the thunderous shakes of "Where's the Revolution," the heart-pounding techno stabs of "Going Backwards," the crackling distortion of the anxiety-inducing of "Scum," and in the Martin Gore-vocalized beseeching, tear-jerking album closer, "Fail."   

Spirit isn't all political agenda. There is the expected torn-up love song dotted here and there: the rumbling, bass-heavy "You Move," the frisky, palpitating "So Much Love," and the paced digital ballad "No More (This is the Last Time)." Whether political or romantic, the effects of both are similar. The perennial group has hit yet another career peak. (www.depechemode.com)

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