Depeche Mode “Delta Machine”
**** (4 Out of 5 stars)
Full disclosure: Depeche Mode is my favorite band in the world, so I will attempt to be objective as possible with this review!
After a three year hiatus, the synth-pop veterans sometimes known as “Depressed Mode” released their 13th album on their new home label, Columbia records entitled “Delta Machine“. My expectations for a stellar release this time around were substantially diminished after being very disappointed with their 2009 release “Sound of the Universe” — an album that as a whole I found stale and uneventful. Rumors ran rampant that Depeche Mode for this new album was going to take a more aggressive electronic approach harnessing more dance influences in similar vein to the band’s 1989 classic “Violator.” I don’t know what is it about Depeche Mode albums, but on the initial listen, I usually immediately hate the album. This was true of every album except for “Violator.”
After checking out Delta Machine’s first single “Heaven,” I was apprehensive. Traditionally, Depeche Mode chooses a pop-dance oriented track as an album’s first single. “Heaven” is an emotional ballad, a duet between co-founder Martin Gore and David Gahan. The choice to have “Heaven” as the lead single for me was evidence of an upcoming slow ballad heavy album, similar to 2001′ “Exciter.” I thought it was weird choice to release as a first single. “I burn a fire of love, over and over, reflecting endless light, relentlessly I have embraced the flame forever and ever…” sings David Gahan, perhaps a reflection of the band’s thirty year longevity. After the second listen, I understood why they chose “Heaven.” Its ethereal, emotional, reflective and powerful showcasing of David Gahan and co-founder Martin Gore’s maturity and ability to look behind their long and contentious relationship. My hopes for a stellar album were reignited.
Of course, that meant that I was destined to be disappointed on first listen. After the first three listens of the album in its entirety, my fear clouded my judgment. The album as a whole seemed slow, in desperate need of remixing, I don’t know, do I hate it?
But thats my typical initial reaction when I first listen to a new Depeche Mode album. To me, that’s usually a sign of a good album, music shouldn’t be easily digestible. The anxiety of wanting to love the album made me it’s biggest critic. I waited two days and re-listened. Miraculously, after a few more complete listens, the album began to grow on me, at first just liking two or three songs. I always enjoy the more upbeat/ dancey tracks at first, then grow to like the moodier slower tracks in between. For Depeche Mode in particular, the first thing that I appreciate are specific electronic sound elements and effects within the track, that stand out to me. Keyboard synths, electronic guitar riffs, washed out beats, ambient sounds, strings all the things that make me an electronic music enthusiast. Subsequently, the song’s melody’s framed by David Gahan’s sexy hypnotic baritone vocals -similar to Jim Morrison, is what enraptured me next.
This is exactly what happened. The bassline on “Secret To the End” instantly put chills down my spine and was the first element of the track that captivated me. The progression of the the track’s electronic elements were next followed by David Gahan’s declaration: “The final chapter in the contract expires soon; We’ve come to the end.” Dark, sinister, sexy and so very Depeche Mode. Every musical phase of the sound that influenced Depeche’s Mode’s 13 albums are dutifully represented in this album. Tracks like “Broken” and “Should Be Higher” could had been incorporated into the 1993 album “Faith and Devotion.” “Should Be Higher” is an industrial Nine Inch Nails sounding record complete with aggressive vocals and lashing beats, perfect for an S&M dungeon. “Soothe My Soul” borrows heavy elements from Depeche’s biggest classic “Personal Jesus” from 1989’s “Violator.” Ballads like “Slow” are in the same vein as “The love Thieves” from 1997’s “Ultra.”
Take each chapter within Depeche Mode’s three decades worth of albums and condense it into one. That in essence is “Delta Machine.” So now, of course, as a devoted Depeche Mode fan, I am obsessed. Bravo, Depeche Mode!
-DJ Ricardo! (djricardonyc.com)
Stand out tracks in order of favorites
- Secret To The End
- Should Be Higher
- Soothe my soul
Check out my newest Rock Infused DJMix feat Depeche Mode download for free!)
DJ Ricardo! Cruise Control: Highway/ City Part 1 Highway: A dreamy rock mix for long distance driving.
It includes Depeche Mode classic “Everything Counts” (Oliver Huntemann & Stephan Bodzin Dub) along with tracks from Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups, M83, Hot Chip, Atlas Genius +more