Monday, April 15, 2013

Depeche Mode : "Delta Machine"



I consider myself a Depeche Mode fan, as I have a long history with the band most closely associating the "Violator" album as the soundtrack to my drug summer of 1995 when I would put that album on very time I saw the sunrise and then "Ultra" was played during many a drugged haze. But it's no secret when it comes to iconic Eighties bands I favored the Cure and the Smiths, who think the bulk of their catalogue tends to hold up better. But I can hang with earlierDepeche Mode anything peppier than say "Master and Servant" I can only take it certain doses.

From Exciter on I have lost touch with the band so this was my chance to reconnect. I can say right of the bat with the opener "Welcome to my World" it sounds more streamed lined and doesn't have the depth of their darker sound. I would say this song borders on being almost minimalist. I take Gahan is still sober , though "Songs of Faith , Love and Devotion" is a very almost inspirational album when he was in the midst of his addiction. The drum programming doesn't have the thump of their nineties work. It reminds me more of Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, though less orchestral in scope. The lyrics are mature and reflective, the vocals are plaintive not the overly emotive de
I every I normally think of Gahan

They soon return to a more familiar form on "Soft Touch/ Raw Nerve" the guitar is present, the beat are modern sounding in their pulse though still thinner and not darkly sensual in their pulse.Granted the lyrically content isn't sexual but seems like he's making comments about how someone's mental health effects him, so a group therapy session, but the beat does have a manic agitation to it.

"Broken" sounds like they are trying to recreate the feel of "Behind the Wheel" so fans looking to relive the glory days and don't notice this might really like this one. It is more of typical Gahan croon. The song works the production just gets on my nerves how thinly digital every tho sounds. Even the parts where there are real instruments are very compressed down into this. It's like all the sex was produced right of this album, though there no real fault in their writing the impact is just diminished, even when I crank my headphones to full blast.

Martin Gore's are really weird deprture on " the Child Inside" almost like David Bowie. It's a slower song even more minimally arranged and mostly filler. The beats improve on "Soothe My Soul" their is a very sterile element to the electronic nature of it but when the chorus kicks in it s tries to resurrect the sultry swing of a "Personal Jesus". Of course being older their isn't as much would searching and getting sober doesn't do rock n roll any favors as a general rule.

So the album does lack any of the rock elements the nineties material had. In the darker moments like the almost Nick Cave like tone of "Angel" still has a sputter to the beat , though the synth sounds are well placed and panned. There's a weird break where the song sounds like a golden light shines down on Gahan before it builds into a Faint like thicker synth drone.

I had already seen a live preformance of "Heaven" but I think I prefer the recorded version, I like Gore's harmonies here I think he works better in this capacity than taking the spotlight. Even though this song as a slower slink to it and in some ways reminds me of a Duran Duran ballad I like it. It feels believable and genuine to them. I'm not sure why the production comes across some much warmer and more organic here. I know it's weird I want my electronica to sound organic but I think it has and can be accomplished, in fact it works well on this song.

They go for a bluesy sound on "Goodbye" by some how end up making it sound like it could have been on Tron as well. The guitar riff doesn't do anything original until the chorus and then you can't tell if it's synth or guitar, I think they were going for an "I Feel You" thing here and it took a slightly wrong turn, not to the point of where the song as a whole doesn't work it just doesn't work as well as a Depeche Mode song should I'm sure the Killers would be proud of it but is is Depeche Mode whose work must be held to a higher standard since we know what they are capable of.

The blues continues to surface on songs like "Slow" , the lyrics are a little vapid at best here, the guitar riffs continue to sound like just stock blues they sampled. The first song on the album I found myself having to really search for a redeeming quality, I suppose Gahan'svoice sounds good here , but shouldn't it always? The cliches keep coming in the lyrical front. The fuzz of the guitar towards the end had potential but nothing to save the song.

The drone of almost Nine Inch Nails lingers in the beat to "Alone". The sounds are fuller and more improved though more digital than dusty and the melody is pretty safe and middle of the road for them. If they are relying on Gore's Harmon's to save them things like this then how much of himself was Gahan investing? There's a little more drive right from the first few measures of "Secret to the End" which I can only imagine is about Gahan's closeted lifestyle. The chorus kicks in with more flare than is generally found on the album and the guitar finally bellies up and offers something imaginative. I like the ..should have , would have been you...interplay in the vocal layering. So songs like this make me suspect of the albums moment which lean in the direction of filler when they show me. They do in fact still know what is up.

"Should have been Higher" didn't hit me off the bat, but I like the restrained tension in the verses, though the chorus dynamically doesn't smack you but I can see it growing on me and being the sound track to a vanilla sex scene that is supposed to be edgey to "Normal" people. Once again the vocal layers and harmonies come in to save the day and at least there's a dab of sex left in this machine.

Well while not their strongest song they do get points as all the blips , beeps and glitches of "My Little Universe" is experimental enough and something different sounds more like some one remixing a Depeche Mode song , so they beat the dee jays to the punch on this one.

Most of my qualms are really just in the productions and even though some moments are more inspired than others I'll still give this one an 8.5 , so weigh it against Violator which is no doubt a 10 and that should give you a rough idea what you are heading into on this, I think they might as well have a relapse when they are going back into the studio and we could get something more visceral from them.

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