Emerging bruised and battered after their latest battle with death and personal demons, whether you like their music or not, Depeche Mode deserve at least some grudging respect for carrying on. Yet carry on they do and they continue to make electronic based music which nonchalantly straddles stadium rock with an integrity and rawness which few can emulate. By the evidence of album number thirteen, there’s no intention of slacking off yet either.
‘Welcome To My World’ is the archetypal slowburner to open the show; Gahan’s weary yet strident vocal are joined by minimal electronica until they dovetail angrily into the familiar slick and mighty operation we have come to admire. At once Depeche Mode reclaim their crown as digitally-powered stadium rockers and so their position is bolstered by the similarly huge ‘Angel’. Those age old question marks with Depeche Mode persist though; making this slick operation sound really emotional is a tricky task. Gahan is always passionate in his delivery and he has lost not a jolt of power after passing the half century but many of these songs are undoubtedly beasts that are too cold to love.
Yet worry ye not. ‘Heaven’ is a brilliant gospel-flavoured number and big enough to merit the weight of its title and even the less dramatic songs such as ‘My Little Universe’ and ‘Should Be Higher’ (where Gahan really strains every sinew) sound big and important. It’s certainly not all about power either. The hidden gems here are ‘The Child Inside’; another great showcase for Martin L. Gore’s slightly creepy yet vulnerable tenor and the brilliant ‘Broken’, where the trio reveal they still have some mysterious and beguiling melodies in the locker. It is these types of songs, tucked away in the centre, which demonstrate the depth of a band.
Admittedly, there’s a few less memorable songs towards the end of the album but far from being the kind of heritage act which churns out records as a means of justifying endless tours, this is another Depeche Mode long player which can proudly stand alongside their back catalogue. Their sound is as crisp and as relevant as ever and with Gahan and Gore in such good voice, it’s feasible this machine could keep on running for another decade yet.
Depeche Mode Official Site